|A Somali woman and a child wait to register for food and other aid in the Dagahaley refugee camp in North Eastern Province, near the Kenya-Somalia border.|
NAIROBI/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 8 July 2011 – UNICEF estimates that over two million young children are malnourished and in need of urgent life-saving actions, if they are to survive conditions in drought-affected countries in the Horn of Africa. Half a million of those children are facing imminent life-threatening conditions, with long lasting consequences to their physical and mental development.
This crisis is being called the worst for 50 years, in a region familiar with severe drought. Countries most seriously affected are Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. Global acute malnutrition rates in Northern Kenya are now above 25 per cent with records reaching as high as nearly 40 per cent in the Turkana district. UNICEF estimates a total of 10 million people are already in need of humanitarian assistance.
High food prices and prolonged drought are worsening an already dire situation for thousands of families in need of food and water. Thousands of families are crossing the border from Somalia as emergency feeding centers are being set up by UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies in neighbouring countries. The refugee situation is growing with some 10,000 arriving every week in Dadaab on the border between Somalia and Kenya.
The threat of disease on already weakened young children is of particular concern and UNICEF is urgently setting up child immunization campaigns. UNICEF, government agencies, NGOs and other UN agencies will be working in the vital areas of water, food and sanitation in the coming days to ward off a massive emergency.
However funding shortfalls, and in some areas the denial of access, threaten to disrupt these essential services. UNICEF is asking for US$ 31.8 million for the coming three months to provide life-saving support to the millions of affected children and women.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Michael Klaus, UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, Nairobi, Kenya,
Tel: + 254 20 762 2214,
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7426,
Marixie Mercado, UNICEF Geneva,
Tel + 41 79 756 7703,