Foreign Policy Blogs

Somalia’s Child Refugees Bear the Burden

Somalia's Child Refugees Bear the Burden

The plight of Somali children, whose families are fleeing the country’s ongoing 20 year conflict and continuing drought, attempting to reach refugee camps in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, is ringing alarm bells at the United Nations. Somali children are dying in great numbers- aid workers have begun to discover that many are unable to survive the treacherous journey to the overrun border camps. Those children who are lucky enough to survive the trek are all too often frail and hungry. According to the UN refugee agency, their death is barely preventable. More than 50 percent of Somali children who arrive in Ethiopia are seriously malnourished, while this rate is lower among those fleeing to Kenya, at 30 to 40 percent it equally worrying.

“It’s so extreme. Our people are saying they’ve never seen anything like it” said UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming at the press briefing on 5 July 2011 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Somali refugees are pouring into Kenya and Ethiopia in increasingly high numbers. In June alone, 54,000 people fled across the two borders, three times the number of people who fled in May, and the UNHCR estimates that a quarter of Somalia’s 7.5 million population is now either internally displaced or living outside the country as refugees (UNHCR).

Sadly Somalia is a country all too often forgotten in the shadows, a precedent that seems unlikely to change as the country’s children continue to suffer. While the UN’s recent outcry is bringing the plight of Somalia’s children into international focus, it remains painfully clear that when we look around to see whose eyes are watching, far too few cast a glance in the direction of country’s children.

Please see my previous posts: When will eye’s of hope cast a glance at Somalia?, from February 11th, 2010; Will we remember Somalia?, from July 14th, 2009; and Have We Forgotten Somalia?, from November 2, 2008.



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict