Fears grow for millions of children in Somalia, as risk of famine looms

Thursday 2 February 2017

Millions of children in Somalia risk starvation, and even death, unless urgent aid is provided by June, Save the Children is warning.

The latest Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) figures reveal an alarming situation in a country dealing with a decades-old conflict, and still recovering from its last famine in 2011.

The unit warns that famine is likely if the upcoming spring rains fail, people’s ability to afford food drops to 2011 levels, and aid doesn’t reach those who need it most.

Three-hundred and sixty-three thousand children are already suffering from malnutrition, 71,000 of whom are now facing the most life-threatening form of hunger.

More than 6.2 million people – more than half the country’s population – are in need of assistance.

Thousands of desperate families are already on the move within Somaliland, Puntland and Somalia, and into neighbouring countries – forcing their children to drop out of school, and leaving them at risk of separation, exploitation and even death.

Back-to-back failed rains have led to severe water shortages, tripling the price of a barrel of water (200 litres) to $15. Three-quarters of the country’s livestock has also perished, and cereal production is down 75 per cent, leading food prices to skyrocket.

“With the spring rains expected to be much lower than average, we have a small window to stop what happened in 2011 from happening again – but that window is quickly shutting,” said Hassan Saadi Noor, Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia.

“Five years ago, more than a quarter of a million lives were needlessly lost, 130,000 of them children. We simply cannot have a repeat of that tragedy. The only way to prevent this devastating loss of life is for donors and international leaders to act now.”

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is calling on the international community to provide $300 million in life-saving funds by April.

Save the Children requires $60 million to reach 1.2 million Somalis affected by the crisis.

The aid organisation is already providing some of the hardest-hit communities with water trucking, health and nutrition services, food vouchers, and unconditional cash transfers.

Its work in Somalia is part of a wider response to help vulnerable children and families affected by the drought in the Horn of Africa, including in Ethiopia and Kenya.

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