Somali malnutrition rates 'the highest'
Geneva - Malnutrition rates for children under 5 in Somalia now stand as the world's highest as the country struggles with persistent violence and an unprecedented drought, the international Red Cross said on Wednesday.
"The nutritional state of children under five years of age in central and southern Somalia is a cause for great alarm," said the International Committee of the Red Cross in a statement.
"Levels of malnutrition have reached a new peak and are currently the highest in the world," it added.
Data from 39 clinics and 18 therapeutic feeding centres show that in some parts of Somalia, the number of children with severe acute malnutrition has almost doubled since March.
Even in the Bay and Lower Shabelle regions, which are the country's breadbaskets, about 11% of children under 5 are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
"These deeply disturbing findings show that the population is no longer able to cope with harsh climate conditions, such as the current drought, while at the same time struggling to survive armed conflict and other violence," said Andrea Heath, the ICRC's economic security co-ordinator for Somalia.
Thousands of Somalis have fled their country in recent months to neighbouring Ethiopia and Kenya in search of food and water and many have died along the way as the region suffers its worst drought in 60 years.