Food insecurity and malnutrition fueled by a severe drought, soaring food prices and an underfunded humanitarian response are pushing Somalia closer to what UN officials are warning will be the worst famine in a century. “We’ve got half a million children facing preventable death,” said UNICEF spokesperson James Elder. “It’s a pending nightmare.”
UNICEF-supported health and nutrition centers are filled with children in need
Every day, new waves of desperate mothers carrying children in need of treatment arrive at the Lada camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Dollow, southern Somalia. On foot and in donkey carts, they come seeking urgent assistance for their children. Some have left everything behind, even their clothes. The camp is one of many sites where UNICEF is providing health and nutrition support for Somalia’s children.
UNICEF health workers screen children and refer those who are diagnosed with SAM to the UNICEF therapeutic program, where they are monitored and given Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food, a lifesaving nutrition treatment. UNICEF is also running breastfeeding clinics for new mothers and supporting the delivery of drinkable water by truck and solar-powered water systems. Access to safe water and sanitation is vital to protect children and families facing famine.
More help is needed as the crisis in Somalia deepens
UNICEF is calling for more support as conditions deteriorate. “To give some terrifying context to this latest number: 340,000 children required treatment for severe acute malnutrition at the time of the 2011 famine,” said Elder. “Today we are faced with 513,000 children at risk of death … We need radical change to stop famine from happening again — ensuring donors commit long-term funding to help families build resilience to the effects of this climate crisis.”
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