Kosovo: Infant nutrition a growing concern for refugees
Save the Children Warns that Lack of Appropriate Food Putting Children at Risk and Arranges Immediate Shipment of Food and Supplies
Tirana, Albania - Based on field reports from its medical advisors visiting refugee camps in Albania, Save the Children is reporting extreme shortages of appropriate infant foods, as well as increasing difficulties facing nursing mothers. The international children's organization reports that it has 40 metric tons of emergency supplies and food en route to Albania and Macedonia.
"Save the Children workers across Albania report that mothers in the camps simply do not have enough food to feed their young children adequately and are increasingly concerned for their children's health," said Lauren Landis, director of Save the Children's humanitarian response division now leading the organization's assessment and rapid response team in Albania. "An emergency shipment of food and other supplies for children is now en route and will be distributed immediately."
As part of its large-scale emergency relief effort, Save the Children is delivering to Albania and Macedonia 40 metric tons of food and other assistance, including infant food and clothing, diapers, sanitary napkins, and oral rehydration salts to combat the effects of childhood diarrhea. Relief supplies are arriving in Skopje, Macedonia today; half of the supplies will be used in camps in Macedonia and half will be flown to Albania tomorrow. Supplies will then be transported by truck to camps in the Albanian towns of Skhoder, Elbasana, Korce, and Kavaje, and Pagrabec.
In addition to shortages of food for young children in the refugee camps, Landis indicated that many women are reporting difficulties nursing their infants. "These women have lost their homes, their husbands, and some have witnessed the most terrible atrocities. The most important thing we can do for these mothers is to meet their basic needs, while supporting efforts to continue or resume breast feeding. Appropriate infant foods are needed to complement breast milk for infants over six months old and breast milk substitutes may be needed for infants whose mothers are not breast feeding them. For toddlers, we hope to be able to procure locally available foods, such as yogurt and fruit."
Save the Children, which has been working in the Balkans since 1993, is enlisting its Danish, Norwegian, and British partners to help meet the needs of refugees throughout the region. To deal with the tremendous influx of refugee families and children, Save the Children has accelerated its response in Montenegro, Bosnia, Albania, and Macedonia.
Separate from the shipment to Albania, Save the Children has delivered its second shipment of 1,000 emergency kits, containing enough flour, cooking oil, milk powder, soap, shampoo, and soap to last a family of five for a week. The shipment traveled from Sarajevo, Bosnia, to Rozaje, Montenegro, arriving for distribution on April 14. A similar shipment of supplies was sent to Plav, Montenegro, last week.
To support Save the Children's efforts on behalf of Kosovar refugees in the Balkans, financial contributions can be directed to the organization's fundraising appeal:
Save the Children
Kosovo Emergency Fund
P.O. Box 975-K
54 Wilton Rd.
Note to editors: Save the Children is able to arrange interviews with program staff on the ground in Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia, and Montenegro, as well as with program experts at its offices in Washington, D.C. and Westport, CT.