Children who could hold out no longer

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The Independent Online
BAIDOA (Reuter) - Twelve starving children died as the United Nations flew tons of emergency food aid to this famished Somalian town. Ten more scarecrow-like infants died in three other centres in the hour it took a UN transport plane to off-load its cargo.

The world has woken up too late for the victims in this desolate place 150 miles north-west of the capital Mogadishu. The only part of town that has seen any growth this year is the graveyard. 'There is little food, few medical supplies, mediocre shelter,' said Irish relief worker, Anita Ennis. 'These children have no clothes, no blankets, no mattresses. There is mass hunger, mass diarrhoea, inadequate medical supplies.'

At one feeding centre in Baidoa, 3,800 children are crowded in structures of sticks and canvas that can hardly accommodate 500. The lucky ones sleep on canvas. Fourteen-year-old Mohammed lay on flattened milk and biscuit cartons, a similar covering his only protection from the biting cold.

Moved to tears, an American journalist removed her jacket and cradled the shivering, emaciated boy. She had given him milk, mineral water and some proteins soon after he was discovered lying by the roadside. His parents had starved to death. A Somali relief worker, Amina Sheikh-Mohammed, said Baidoa's children drank water from anywhere and ate whatever food they ever found.