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Emergency supplies airlifted to southern Somalia in response to worsening child malnutrition

NAIROBI, Kenya, 14 July 2011 - UNICEF has airlifted emergency nutrition supplies and water-related equipment to Baidoa, Bay region in southern Somalia, as part of its life-saving interventions to assist drought-affected children in Somalia. More supplies are en-route.

The most severe humanitarian emergency in the world has been declared in the Horn of Africa, and Somalia is at the epicentre of the crisis. Over half a million children in Somalia are acutely malnourished and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The south, currently in a very critical humanitarian situation, is worst affected, home to 80 per cent of all malnourished children. In some areas of the south, one in three children is acutely malnourished.

UNICEF has airlifted to Baidoa five metric tons of essential nutrition supplies, including therapeutic food and medicine to treat severely malnourished children, and equipment to supply clean water to the camp for displaced people in Baidoa." said UNICEF Representative to Somalia, Rozanne Chorlton.  "Health supplies are also en-route via Mogadishu, consisting of health kits with essential medicines to treat common childhood illnesses, such as respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, minor injuries and worm infestation. The supplies are sufficient to treat up to 100,000 people over a period of 3 months”

“We are ready to work anywhere in Somalia, provided we get unhindered access to reach the most vulnerable children in need”

Somalia is the epicentre of this disaster because an extremely fragile situation characterised by conflict and insecurity, has escalated at the same time as climatic and price changes were hitting hard on the population.

Children who are severely malnourished are nine times more likely to die than healthy children and even children who are moderately malnourished have a significantly higher risk of dying. Malnutrition robs the child of vital micronutrients that are essential to their growth and development, and makes children more susceptible to disease. Where it does not kill, malnutrition can leave permanent scars; it can leave a child physically and intellectually damaged and suffering from the consequences of a weakened immune system.

Between January and May, UNICEF and its partners treated over 100,000 acutely malnourished children, through almost 800 nutrition centres across Somalia. Of them, 460 children were reported to have died, with over 86% of mortality cases reported from central south regions. The tragedy is that many more children may be dying before reaching the feeding centres.

Children do not die just because they don’t have enough food. They are dying or are affected for the rest of their lives because they are more prone to sickness and disease, because they drink contaminated water, they are not vaccinated and they have poor diets. All of these conditions are worsening now and are aggravated even further when families are forced to move.

“Resolving the lack of food aid and other resources to address food insecurity in the south is of utmost urgency to alleviate the impact of the current crisis. However, food alone is not enough. Children and their families need health services, clean water, nutrition and an adequate level of care and protection.” said Ms. Chorlton.

In addition to the on-going interventions that UNICEF has supported without interruption in most of central and southern Somalia, including the operation of over 500 therapeutic and supplementary feeding centres for treating acutely malnourished children, UNICEF is scaling up its response to address the current crisis.

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

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For more information please contact:
Iman Morooka, Communication Officer, UNICEF Somalia. 
Tel + 254 714 606 733.

Shantha Bloemen, UNICEF Johannesburg,
Tel +277 94955938,





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