29 Jun 2011

Desperate families walk for weeks to escape war

7:21 am on 29 June 2011

An aid agency says a combination of war and drought in Somalia has led to unprecedented numbers fleeing across the border to a refugee camp in neighbouring Kenya.

Save the Children is reporting that every day, about 1300 people - at least 800 of them children - are arriving at the Dadaab refugee camp.

The monthly number of new arrivals has more than doubled in a year, it says.

Aid workers at the camp say the children are exhausted, malnourished and severely dehydrated.

Save the Children says some desperate families are walking for more than a month to reach the camp.

The ongoing conflict in Somalia forces many to head for the Kenyan border but a severe drought and the unaffordable cost of food has made the situation worse.

Although made up of three settlements, Dadaab is often referred to as the largest refugee camp in the world,with well over 350,000 people, the BBC reports.

The humanitarian agency Medecins Sans Frontieres says many of the new arrivals are in desperate need of healthcare. It says almost half of the children arriving there have never had a vaccination.

Efforts to decongest the camp and relocate the refugees have so far made little difference.