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Despite recent improvements emergency relief still needed in the Horn of Africa

NEW YORK (April 12, 2012) — The massive humanitarian response in the Horn of Africa in 2011 reversed the spread of famine and saved tens of thousands of children’s lives, but the outlook is increasingly worrisome and threatens the tentative gains achieved to date, according to a new UNICEF report.

“Despite significant progress in the food security outlook for the Horn of Africa, the child survival crisis is far from over. Millions of children require sustained assistance in the critical months ahead. Otherwise, we can easily see a reversal of the hard-won achievements,” said Elhadj As Sy, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, on the occasion of the launch of the report: “Response to the Horn of Africa emergency” that describes the UNICEF humanitarian operation in the six months after famine was declared in parts of Somalia in July 2011.

“The prospects for a sustained recovery are increasingly precarious. The most recent weather outlook in combination with persisting insecurity and violence in many areas can lead to new shocks and disruptions, a development which again puts the lives of hundreds of thousands of children at risk,” said Elhadj As Sy, who is the UNICEF Global Emergency Coordinator for the Horn of Africa crisis.

According to the latest projections, the March-May seasonal rains will remain below average in most parts of the region. Ongoing conflict in Somalia, terror attacks and ethnic violence in parts of Kenya, as well as threats against aid workers are limiting humanitarian access to refugees and communities affected by the crisis.

More than eight million people across the Horn of Africa need emergency assistance. Nearly a third of Somalia’s population—some 2.51 million people—are still in acute humanitarian crisis, including more than 323,000 acutely malnourished children. Some 463,000 Somali refugees in the Dadaab camps in northeastern Kenya, 142,000 people in the Dollo Ado camps in Ethiopia, 22,000 people in the Ali Addeh camp in Djibouti, as well as 1.35 million Somalis displaced within their own country continue to require support.

Results achieved in 2011

The report details the results of UNICEF’s massive humanitarian response in the second half of 2011, which include: the delivery of more than 60,000 metric tons of life-saving UNICEF supplies to Horn of Africa countries by air, land and sea routes; the treatment of nearly 350,000 severely malnourished children; the vaccination of 7.9 million children against measles; the provision of safe water to 3.2 million people; and the facilitation of access for more than 200,000 children to child-friendly spaces or other safe environments.

Thanks to massive support from donors and other partners, UNICEF contributed to the downgrading of Somalia’s six famine zones to the lower emergency level; a three-fold reduction in global acute malnutrition in Kenya’s Turkana region; and very high recovery rates from acute malnutrition and low mortality rates among children in Ethiopia.

Building the resilience of families and communities

In 2011, UNICEF received more than $405 million for its humanitarian response in the Horn of Africa, reaching 96%  of the total amount needed. This year, UNICEF needs an additional $413.8 million for its relief and recovery operations in the Horn of Africa.

Initiatives include resilience-building among families and communities, for instance through targeted cash transfers, the increased use of mobile health teams, strengthening capacity at the community-level for early surveillance and treatment of acute malnutrition, mapping of water and sanitation facilities in high-risk areas to enable better preparedness, alternative basic education with flexible schooling hours and mobile schools for hard-to-reach populations such as pastoralists, the inclusion of peace education in teacher training programs, as well as other activities to reduce the risk that yet another disaster occurs.

“The coming months demand continued and sustained support to ensure that the multiple needs of vulnerable children are met and that another catastrophe can be averted,” said Elhadj As Sy.

“If vigilance is not maintained, famine may return. However, together we can make a fundamental difference for millions of children in the Horn of Africa.”

For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution to emergency and preventative programs in the Horn of Africa, please contact the U.S. Fund for UNICEF:

Website: www.unicefusa.org/donate/horn

Toll free: 1-800-4UNICEF (1-800-486-4233)

Mail: 125 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.

UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org
Kini Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634,
kschoop@unicefusa.org