|© UN Somalia/Deghati|
|A malnourished child receives therapeutic food Plumpy’nut at a feeding programme in Bossaso, Somalia.|
NEW YORK, USA, 21 October 2009 – UNICEF officials worry that funding shortfalls may threaten the humanitarian assistance activities that are urgently needed for roughly 3.6 million people in Somalia, including for 1.4 million affected by severe drought and about 1.5 million displaced primarily by conflict.
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UNICEF officials are concerned that the current situation in Somalia will have lasting consequences for Somali society. Children continue to bear the brunt of the conflict, and many lack access to even the most basic services. Fighting has killed and injured numerous children. Many are recruited into armed conflict.
In addition to the traumas of conflict, children in Somalia face a myriad of other challenges, from education to health and sanitation concerns. Primary school enrolment is among the lowest in the world.
Safe water is also scarce. Only 29 per cent of the population has access to safe water, and this is now being aggravated by drought.
Nutrition continues to be a critical concern, with one in five children acutely malnourished, and one in 20 severely malnourished and at risk of death without proper treatment.
Aid continues uninterrupted
Despite insecurity, unpredictable circumstances and security breaches against the facilities, assets and supplies of both UN and non-governmental organizations, UNICEF has been working to make a difference in the lives of Somali children and women. Improvement or sustained levels of malnutrition in some areas in Somalia is attributed mainly to humanitarian interventions.
Programmes in Puntland and Somaliland are continuing uninterrupted, and programmes in the Central/Southern Zone continue despite some delays in supply provision. UNICEF has also been steadily scaling-up treatment programmes for moderately and severely acutely malnourished children across Somalia.
|© UN Somalia/Deghati|
|A child is being weighed at the Outpatient Therapeutic Centre in Bossaso, Somalia.|
UNICEF’s programme to prevent malnutrition has already reached more than 132,000 high-risk children under three-years-old. In Jowhar, where UNICEF’s compound and warehouse were looted and distribution of a new ready-to-use food product, Plumpy'doz, was disrupted, UNICEF is working to provide types of nutritional supplements that are less vulnerable to looting.
Addressing health care and education
UNICEF is also working to address other critical health concerns by providing essential medicines, vaccines and supplies to over 250 Maternal and Child Health (MCH) facilities and 540 health posts, ensuring access to basic primary health care for about 2.5 million people each year. Over one million children under five and over 800,000 women of child-bearing age were reached during the first round of the Child Health Days which completed in June. They were provided with a package of high-impact health services including vaccinations, water purification tablets and nutritional screenings.
And more than 900,000 people are benefiting from UNICEF’s help in operating, managing or fixing about 1,700 water delivery systems.
Humanitarian response will continue
UNICEF is also playing a critical role in assisting schools and teachers to help keep the country’s educational system operational – with almost all primary school supplies and textbooks provided through UNICEF assistance.
Working in Somalia has never been more difficult, with direct hostilities targeting UN facilities, assets and even humanitarian supplies, but UNICEF Somalia officials stress that the humanitarian response for children and women will continue, despite the challenges.
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