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The Horn of Africa
A serious drought has been developing across eastern Africa since early last year, placing millions of people in danger of starvation. The failure of rains has put tremendous strain on the nutrition, health and general welfare of as many as 16 million people in a dozen countries, including millions of children. Immediate assistance from the global community is needed in order to stave off a possible disaster. In Ethiopia alone, about 8 million people are in danger. Of those, about 1.4 million are children under age five.
The natural disasters have been impacted by conflict and general insecurity throughout the region. Banditry plagues supply routes, making already treacherous roads even more dangerous. But the most tragic impediment to saving lives in the area is the border war between two of the worst-hit countries, Ethiopia and Eritrea. The resumption of that conflict, aside from creating new refugees and causing untold loss of life, has drawn vital logistical resources in both countries away from aid programs and to the frontlines.
To protect young children, activities such as measles vaccinations, provision of vitamin A and oral rehydration salts, anti-malarial drugs and antibiotics are crucial. Across the region, UNICEF country offices are supporting therapeutic and supplemental feeding programs for children and pregnant women; investing in improved water and sanitation systems; providing important health and hygiene education to vulnerable populations; and initiating and supporting health care with medicines, training for health workers, and technical guidance for governments in the management of tuberculosis and other diseases.
UNICEF is delivering millions of high energy biscuits throughout the region. These supplementary foods are especially good for helping children and women maintain their strength and nourishment, and require no preparation, water, or cooking. UNICEF has also delivered millions of sachets of oral rehydration salts in the affected countries, as well as essential drugs for malnourished and sick children. Community water tanks and individual family water jugs are being shipped into the region to help people store precious water supplies.
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