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'I have nothing now', says Somali mother-of-seven who lost entire family in search for food and water

When Suray Mohamed left her village in search of food and water a few weeks ago she was a wife and mother.

By the time she arrived at the town of Baidoa she had become a widow and her children were dead.

Along the dusty road she watched them die, one by one. There were four boys and three girls.

In a soft voice, she names them; "Isaak, Mohamed, Mustafa, Amina, Abdi, Ihdi, Hadija."

Her voice trails off.

"They should be sitting with me here. But I have nothing now, I have nothing now."

The first child died a few days along the road, she tells me, the second three days later.

"On one day, a child died in the morning, then that night, another died."

Suray squats outside her tent. There are 100,000 people in the crowded camps that have sprung up in the scrubby sands around Baidoa.

Thousands are suffering from severe malnutrition. Credit: ITV News

Yet this woman is alone.

"The last was my baby I was still breastfeeding. Some kind villagers helped me bury her. It was not a proper grave. The ground was too hard.

‘"I was not in my senses any more. I don’t even know how I got here in the end. I was lost in my grief."

In the camps here you will find many widows, and many grieving mothers.

Hunger has driven half a million Somalis to leave their homes. But for the moment hunger is not the main danger.

The drought has brought disease and disease has brought death from dirty water in dried out wells and poor hygiene.

The most feared is cholera; it can kill in hours, preying on bodies already weakened by malnutrition.

People queue for water in a camp in the Somalian town of Baidoa. Credit: ITV News

So in the capital, Mogadishu, the main hospital’s cholera ward, supported by UNICEF, is crowded with children.

There’s Ali, three-years-old, with the care-worn face of an old man. He weighs just seven kilograms.

Close by, Maria Hussein, weeps over her daughter. She tells me how the disease struck Suweys. First vomiting, then diarrhoea. "She was so weak, she couldn’t even cry.’"

Dr Adam Isse says victims can die in just six hours unless they receive treatment. It is as brutal as that.

Back at the camp Abaay Adbirahim Daud, 12, cradles her little brother, Abbas, as she waits in a queue for fresh water that comes spilling from a tanker organised by World Vision, one of the humanitarian groups working in Baidoa.

It is the most precious commodity there is.

A young boy recovering from cholera with his mother at his bedside. Credit: ITV News

Abaay tells me both her grandmother and mother are dead. They fell sick after drinking from the well in their home village. The water was sour, a neighbour explains.

"Almost every other woman we speak to seems to have lost a child or a husband. There are horrendous stories we are hearing of families losing four, five, six children. And they are losing those children walking to where they expect to get help,’" said Simon Nyabwengi, Somalia Country Director of World Vision.

So far there have been 21,000 officially reported cases of cholera and more than 500 deaths.

Ali, his brother Ibrahim and mother Fatima fled their village, 80 miles from Mogadishu, where there is no food and little water. Credit: ITV News

But they are only the deaths they can count. No-one really knows what is happening out in the villages. The true toll might already run into the several thousands.

The countryside outside Baidoa is dominated by Al Shabab; which has denounced foreign aid and attacked aid workers.

The cholera outbreak is the latest escalation of an emergency that threatens to dwarf the already sizable humanitarian response.

If the drought continues then it is reckoned more than 185,000 children could face imminent risk of starving to death.

"The world has responded with great generosity but the scale of this crisis is outstripping our ability to deal with it," says Nyabwengi.

Hunger has driven half a million Somalis to leave their homes. Credit: ITV News

Al Shabab, three years without rain, and now cholera. A lethal combination.

"We call it the witches brew," Nyabwengi adds grimly.

Outside her tent, Muraysa Sankus nurses her infant daughter, Fatima. At the camp, she will receive emergency rations that will save her daughter's life.

But Muraysa says she has three more children who were too weak to make the journey.

"They could not stand or walk,’" she says. "I had to leave them at home with their grandmother. They are in the care of god. Only he will decide what will happen to them."

The UN says it only has two thirds of the money it needs to cope with the crisis. Credit: ITV News