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UNICEF Ambassador Clay Aiken Visits North-West Somalia
Date:7/3/2008

UNICEF is making a difference in Somalia despite difficult circumstances;

Urges world to remember Somali children

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- UNICEF Ambassador Clay Aiken, today ended a five-day visit to the troubled east African nation of Somalia and called on the world to remember the plight of that country's children.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080703/NYTH023 )

"Unfortunately this is a region that's better known for conflict, insecurity, drought and floods," said Aiken who has been a UNICEF Ambassador for four years. "It's truly remarkable that UNICEF is still able to make a difference in the health, education and overall well-being of Somali children."

Aiken traveled to Hargeisa, Gabiley and Boroma located in the north-west region of the country, known as the republic of Somaliland. Here, Aiken was able to observe first-hand UNICEF-supported projects, which promote child health, safe water, sanitation and hygiene, primary education, child protection and girls' empowerment.

Somalia is a country in which less than 25 percent of the population have access to basic health services, less than 30 percent attend primary school and only 29 percent have access to a safe water source.

It's also a place where 98 percent of girls are subjected to genital circumcision and has amongst the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

One of Aiken's first stops was the Somaliland Cultural and Sports Association (SOCSA), an enclosed facility in Gabiley dedicated to empowering girls through sport and cultural activities.

"The girls here are able to learn about leadership and health, acquire life-skills and play sports within a safe environment," said Aiken. "Even the youngest girls that I've met at SOCSA, impressed me with how confident and articulate they are as a result of this
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SOURCE U.S. Fund for UNICEF
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