Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Children die of hunger as relief food dries out
By Boniface Ongeri and Beatrice Obwocha for EAST AFRICAN STANDARD

Three more children have died of hunger in Wajir District(Kenya's North Eastern Province)

The minors’ deaths were reported yesterday as other reports said starving residents in some locations no longer receive relief food from the Government.

Erestino Location assistant chief Hussein Ali Katelo said malnourished children and the elderly were dying of hunger as aid agencies and the Government stopped dispatching relief food to the area.

He identified the children as Ali Noor Maalim, two months, Isack Hassan Maalim, seven months and Mohammed Maalim Adan, 2.

Their deaths, the chief said, brought the death toll due to starvation to eight in the last one month. The location is some 310km from Wajir on the Kenya-Ethiopia border.

Oxfam GB is one of the aid agencies that was tasked by the Government to distribute relief food after the provincial administration was accused of diverting the food.

Last year, the Government sparked public outrage when officials dumped relief food destined for Erestino at Danaba Location, some 40km away, and asked the residents to go and collect it.
An elder, Adan Abdullai Maalim, said the only time the location received relief food was in January when they received 340 bags of miaze and 16 bags of beans following a demonstration.

An Oxfam official said the area was insecure and they would not risk the lives of their workers.
He said the charity had instead delivered food meant for Erestino to the Government to be delivered under police escort.

The officer said the provincial administration was given March, April and May food rations for the area. Local DC Joseph Otieno declined to comment on the matter.