About 1.8 million children aged under five are still expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in Somalia this year, though the risk of famine has been averted for the time being, an international charity has warned.
Save the Children said in a statement released in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Wednesday evening that humanitarian needs remain high and urgent, and called for more funding so that humanitarian organizations can continue delivering life-saving aid.
“Somalia has reached a tipping point. The situation remains extremely serious, as the country is expecting a sixth season of below-average rainfall from March to June, and exceptionally high food prices,” said Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia Mohamud Mohamed Hassan.
The charity said the total number of children facing malnutrition has not changed since December 2022, although the number projected to be severely malnourished had slightly reduced to about 480,000 from 513,500, with children losing their lives.
It called for urgent international funding to prevent the further loss of life, warning that there continues to be a risk of famine if there is poor rainfall and if humanitarian assistance does not reach the most vulnerable people, including displaced populations, and people living in areas which are hard to reach due to conflict.
In 2022, the United Nations warned of a looming famine in Somalia which is facing its worst drought in about four decades after five failed rainy seasons combined with rising food prices and ongoing conflict, fuelling concerns of a repeat of 2011 when about 260,000 people died.
Mohamed said while humanitarian efforts have so far averted a possible famine, the number of hungry and malnourished children across the country remains alarmingly high. He said a global response is still needed to address immediate humanitarian needs and implement lasting solutions to hunger.
“We are concerned that the increase in children experiencing acute malnutrition coincides with a reduction in humanitarian funding for Somalia, and we’re warning of deadly consequences if funds are withdrawn,” he added.