NEW YORK (July 20, 2011) — The United Nations declared today a famine in two regions of southern Somalia: southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle. More than half a million children in Somalia are acutely malnourished and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. UNICEF has called the situation across the Horn of Africa the "most severe humanitarian emergency in the world," with Somalia being the epicenter of the crisis.
Nearly half the Somali population—3.7 million people—is now in crisis. The south is the most affected, hosting 80% of all malnourished children. In some areas of the south, one in three children is acutely malnourished. Conflict and insecurity are compounded by drought and rising food and fuel prices, creating a dire situation. Across drought-affected Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti more than two million young children are acutely malnourished, half of a million of whom require immediate lifesaving assistance to survive.
"The situation in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa is more than just a food crisis. It is a child survival crisis," said President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Caryl Stern. "The earlier we act, the more children we can save. Americans are a generous people, and a little goes a long way—just $10 can feed a child for 10 days."
In the last few months, tens of thousands of people have died as a result of causes related to malnutrition, the majority of whom were children. UNICEF is appealing for funding to prevent child deaths from malnutrition and disease in Somalia and neighboring countries. UNICEF urgently requires $31.8 million over the next three months for relief efforts. Funds raised will help UNICEF provide therapeutic treatment for children and women with severe malnutrition, access to clean drinking water, and vaccinations to prevent deadly diseases like measles and polio, as malnourished children are at increased risk of deadly disease.
The Horn of Africa drought is being called the worst in 60 years, in a region familiar with severe drought. UNICEF estimates that more than 10 million people are already in need of humanitarian assistance. Consecutive droughts have affected Somalia in the last few years, while the ongoing conflict has made it extremely difficult for agencies to operate and access communities in the south of the country. Last week UNICEF airlifted 5 tons of emergency nutrition supplies, medicine, and water-related equipment to Baidoa in southern Somalia as part of its lifesaving interventions to assist drought-affected children.
Supplies for 10 health facilities to reach up to 100,000 people have also been airlifted to the capital Mogadishu. These supplies consist of health kits with essential medicines to treat common childhood illnesses, such as respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, minor injuries and worm infestation.
Malnutrition rates in Somalia are currently the highest in the world, with peaks of 50% in certain areas of southern Somalia. In southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle, acute malnutrition rates exceed 30%, with under-five deaths exceeding 6 per 10,000 per day in some areas. Famine is declared when acute malnutrition rates among children exceed 30%; more than 2 people per 10,000 die per day; and people are not able to access food and other basic necessities.
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:
Toll free: 1-800-4UNICEF (1-800-486-4233)
Mail: 125 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, email@example.com