Child Deaths in Somalia Could Reach Unprecedented Levels, Says UNICEF
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) warned on Tuesday, October 18, that thousands of acutely malnourished boys and girls in Somalia face a high risk of death and urged donors to increase support amid an unprecedented drought.
James Elder, the spokesperson for UNICEF, told journalists in Geneva that “Without greater action and investment, we are facing the death of children on a scale not seen in half a century.”
He explained that “a child is admitted to a medical facility every single minute of every single day for treatment of severe acute malnutrition.”
Recent statistics show that since August, 44,000 admissions have taken place, or one child per minute.
According to Elder, “Severely malnourished children are up to 11 times more likely to die of diarrhea and measles than well-nourished children. With rates such as these, Somalia is on the brink of a tragedy on a scale not seen in decades.”
With the worst drought in 40 years affecting more than 20 million people across various nations in the Horn of Africa, UN agencies have been warning for months that famine is imminent.
More Insight into possible Causes of Child Death in Somalia…
According to a report released on Tuesday by the UN office for humanitarian affairs, famine in Somalia’s Baidoa and Burhakaba districts is predicted to occur between this month and December if aid does not reach people who are most in need.
Mr. Elder further stated, “When people speak of the crisis facing Somalia today, it has become common for frightful comparisons to be made with the famine of 2011 when 260,000 people died. However, everything I am hearing on the ground – from nutritionists to pastoralists – is that things today actually look worse.”
The spokesperson for UNICEF gave the situation a human face, particularly that of a young child whose “life hangs in the balance.”
Thousands of these children have arrived at treatment facilities, carried by mothers who have walked for days, but he is worried about those who will never be able to find assistance, especially in a nation where access to healthcare is constantly constrained by terrorism and threats against aid workers.
Elder described how UNICEF is using mobile teams to “find and treat” malnourished children, especially in challenging-to-reach areas. He outlined that more than 300,000 children have been treated for severe acute malnutrition so far this year, and 500,000 people have received emergency water trucking from UNICEF in the past three months, but there are still financial issues.
Still on the News…
Despite the fact that UNICEF has recently received “substantial funds” from the US, the UK, and the European Commission, Elder emphasized that long-term funding is essential “to prevent famine from happening again and again.”
In related news, the UN’s Somalia humanitarian team has increased its 2022 appeal from $1.46 billion to $2.26 billion, a 55 percent increase since the launch at the beginning of the year. 80% of the cash is allocated towards drought relief.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Spokesperson Jens Laerke, “While it is late in the year to revise an annual appeal, it was deemed essential because humanitarian needs have increased steeply while the funding ask has not.”
The amended plan now has 7.6 million individuals as its target population, up from 5.5 million at the start of the year. It will be supported by roughly 45% after the adjustment.
According to Laerke, the UN and its allies have provided some help to 5.7 million people, “but critical gaps remain, including in core lifesaving sectors.”