|by Ahmedsadik yusuf Mohamed|
|Published on: Apr 20, 2010|
|In general, Somali children’s lives are endangered everywhere in the country, because their mothers face a very high risk of dying during the period of pregnancy or in childbirth. Contagious diseases like diarrheas, disease-related dehydration, respiratory infections, tuberculosis, malaria, malnutrition, lack of safe water, poor sanitation and hygiene are also great killers of infants and young children. All these problems can be connected to the lack of access to safe water, and to poor food and domestic hygiene.
When areas are struck by floods or droughts and when localized conflict erupts, resulting in the dispersal of people, poor diets and insufficient home management lead to numerous children being poorly nourished.
Immunization coverage is in short supply, making impossible the prevention of measles outbreaks in Somalia. Somalia is also among countries with the uppermost incidence of tuberculosis and there are uncountable overcrowded camps where many displaced people live with a general lack of treatment facilities, poor quality medicines and malnutrition. Tuberculosis remains one of the country’s main killer diseases. Tetanus and other birth-related problems are additional causes of infant deaths, and measles and its associated difficulties result in widespread sickness.
Only 35-percent of the Somali population has access to adequate sanitation. Poor hygiene and environmental sanitation are the main causes of diseases like cholera among children and women; the impact of poor environmental sanitation is especially felt in the towns, villages and places where people gather to live. Lack of garbage collection facilities is another factor affecting the urban environment and polluting water sources, along with the proliferation of plastic refuse bags.
Stray bullets are among the dangers faced by Somali children. When they sleep in the streets of Mogadishu or anywhere in the country; they encounter injuries and death. The civil-wars and conditions of poverty have forced thousands of children to gather in the streets of the Somalia, particularly in Mogadishu city. It is clear that some of the children sustained injuries due to the crossfire between warring groups, while others became victims of drug- addiction.
In the midst of the civil-strife, children have started collecting plastic bottles as well as the bags in which khat is delivered several times a day to satisfy the Somali men’s addiction. Khat is a narcotic plant. Most of the children wash them and sell them back, earning a little money with which they buy some cigarettes. They can then make a small profit selling these by the stick. Others are shoe-shiners whose services are not paid for by the shoes’ owners. They are seldom able to find even low-paid work since there is a small cost associated with setting up- brushes and polish, needles and yarn to repair damaged shoes.
“Perhaps the little money they earn during the day is taken away by older street-boys and there are also adult men who molest the younger children (sexual abuse)", said one street-boy living in Mogadishu. I, the writer of this article, do believe that Somali children face the worst situations: poverty, conflict and drought have forced them to take shelter in the streets for the last two decades. Shoe-shining and car-washing are the jobs of choice for most street boys. The girls mostly sweep or clean people’s houses. Many children suffer abuse, violence and particularly sexual abuse.
One of street boys, Qasaye, complains, “We are victims of sexual violence on the street at night. It is easy for gangs to kill us with no one to protect or defend us." Many street children have been infected with all sorts of killer-diseases; they don't have any money to go to clinic centers. “My father died in the civil-war; what I earn from shoe-shining is what my mother and brothers and sisters and I eat. I sometimes collect the remains of the khat at the teashop to get profit. My mother used to sell milk in the market, but what my mother got from the milk, was not sufficient,” said Musow Yare, clutching a glue bag in his left hand.
The street boys, who shine shoes and wash cars, are often armed with knives and can kill each other. It has been difficult for Somali children to gain access to education, health care and protection after the collapse of former regime in 1991. Before that, there had been street boys, but they weren’t like today’s’ street boys.
In conclusion, each Somali adult has to wk to ensure that peace and stability are restored. This is the only way to ensure the survival of our people, particularly Somali children, because they are the leaders of tomorrow.