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Geneva, 8 June 2018: Geneva Palais briefing note on the situation of children in Somalia

© UNICEF/UN0207404
Members of a community receive health and nutrition services at a mobile clinic. The team of health workers is dispatched by UNICEF partner to provide lifesaving services to children and their families displaced by floods in Beledweyne, Hiraan region.

GENEVA, 8 June 2018 – This is a summary of what was said by Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF spokesperson in Geneva – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

After four consecutive poor rainy seasons that brought Somalia once again to the brink of famine, the country is now seeing near-record rainfall, and with it, flooding and displacement affecting hundreds of thousands.

The rains signal the end of the drought for some areas of the country but they also sharpen the risks faced by acutely malnourished children, and particularly those who have been displaced.

The flooding since April has displaced about 230,000 people, over half of whom are estimated to be children. They join 2.6 million people across the country who were already displaced by drought and conflict – living in shelters made of twig and tarp, in congested and unsanitary conditions that spread disease quickly.

The rains do not end the malnutrition crisis among Somali children.

About half of children under 5 – more than 1.25 million – are expected to be acutely malnourished this year. That includes up to 232,000 children who will suffer the harshest form of malnutrition, severe acute malnutrition (SAM), which requires specialized lifesaving care.

Children displaced from their homes are most likely to be malnourished. Even before the floods, acute malnutrition rates among displaced children ranged from 15 percent (the emergency threshold) to 21 per cent, as compared to an average of 13.8 per cent of Somali children. This year, UNICEF has already treated over 88,000 children suffering from SAM.

The rains spread diseases that are particularly deadly for malnourished children with exhausted, fragile immune systems. While we haven’t seen a spike yet, the risk of further outbreaks is high and compounded by flooding.

The flooding has damaged water points, sanitation facilities and other critical infrastructure, and 22 nutrition centres treating over 6,000 acutely malnourished children in areas hosting IDPs have had to shut down. Many of the flood-impacted areas are in the path of an ongoing measles outbreak, and a spike in acute watery diarrhea/cholera cases is a major threat.

Early funding in 2017 enabled the government and humanitarian community to massively scale up programmes. The crisis is not over, but short-term funding is running out, and this will hurt water, health and nutrition services.

UNICEF has received 24.3 million this year of its 154.9 million appeal which, along with funds carried over, leaves a gap of 110.3 million (71 per cent).


Notes for editors:

UNICEF response in 2018:


  • Supported a mass measles campaign in March 2018 (over 2.4 million children aged 6 months to 10 years in south and central regions), which has contributed to over 50% reduction in new cases since April 2018.


  • Reached over 88,600 SAM children from January 2018 to date,, surpassing the number treated during the same period in 2017 Water, sanitation and Hygiene
  • Provided emergency WASH services to over 300,000 people in flood-affected districts. During the month of April, UNICEF and partners reached 113,000 with temporary water supplied through trucking and vouchers


  • Provided quality education services to a total of 50,791 children (42 per cent girls) across Somalia, since the beginning of the year

Child Protection

  • Provided protection services to more than 10,800 children, including access to psychosocial support


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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Media contacts

Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF Geneva, Tel: +41 (0)22 909 5716, Tel: +41 (0) 799639244, Email:

Joe English, UNICEF New York, Tel: +1 917 893 0692, Email:



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