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More than a million children in Southern Somalia in need of lifesaving assistance

UNICEF: Saving children must be first priority

NEW YORK (July 29, 2011) — With an estimated 1.25 million children across southern Somalia in urgent need of lifesaving care and 640,000 children acutely malnourished, UNICEF calls for all actors to make saving children's lives the top priority and to urgently support all efforts to reach children in need.

"Families should not have to face a perilous journey on foot in search of basic necessities like food and water, nor should they be forced to make the unthinkable choice of which child to feed," said President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Caryl Stern. "Providing food for a child costs as little as $1 per day, but we urgently need support to reach these children in desperate need."

To reach children as quickly as possible, UNICEF, along with its partners, has mounted a massive scale up of its operations and is using all avenues available to get supplies into southern Somalia. The single largest agency delivering therapeutic and supplementary nutrition services in Somalia, UNICEF works in partnership with about 60 non-governmental organizations in the southern part of the country.

So far this month UNICEF has brought in enough supplementary feeding supplies for 65,000 children in the drought-affected regions of southern Somalia. These supplies are being distributed by partners on the ground.

Three flights to Mogadishu, two to Galkayo, and a flight to Baidoa, as well as two ships to Mogadishu have delivered life-saving nutritional supplies, including 653 metric tons of nutritious food to feed more than 65,000 vulnerable children and about 230 metric tons of therapeutic food to treat 16,000 severely malnourished children. Most of these nutritional supplies have already reached children in Mogadishu and the regions of Gedo, Middle Juba, Lower Juba, Bay and Lower Shabelle in southern Somalia.

UNICEF plans to further boost its supply pipeline to support the existing 325 supplementary feeding centers, 16 inpatient stabilization centers and 201 outpatient therapeutic feeding centers, as well as expand outreach services to reach children in remote areas.

UNICEF will also begin blanket supplementary feeding for 150,000 households per month over the next two months. In K-50 (Middle Shabelle), 7,000 displaced families received rations of nutritious corn-soy blend. UNICEF is also working with partners to roll out feeding programs to provide 8,000 people with three meals daily in locations where displaced people are arriving.

"Although we have challenges, we are reaching children. For instance, this week, our partners were able to reach 3,550 children with a combination of corn-soy blend and ready-to-use therapeutic food in hard-to-reach areas in Qansadheere, Bay region," said Rozanne Chorlton, UNICEF Representative in Somalia.

Next week a vessel carrying 410 metric tons of corn-soy blend to provide blanket feeding for over 20,000 families is expected to dock in Mogadishu. The ship will also deliver F-75 therapeutic milk and ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat more than 7,300 severely malnourished children.

UNICEF estimates it will need USD $117 million over the next six months to reach children in all of southern Somalia's drought-affected areas with emergency and preventative assistance.

For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution to relief efforts 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 13 million in 1990 to 8.1 million in 2009. But still, 22,000 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, (m) 646.428.5010, smasur@unicefusa.org
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org

WHAT YOUR MONEY CAN BUY

$20 can provide 480 High Energy Protein Biscuits to provide children nutrition in the wake of a disaster.

$140 can provide a Basic Family Water Kit to provide clean drinking water to 10 families.

$256 can provide a School-in-a-box kit to set up a temporary school for 40 students during an emergency–containing a chalk board, notebooks, pencils, erasers, scissors and even multi-band radio.