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News note

Massive humanitarian response to Somalia famine has saved children’s lives

Tens of thousands of Somali children’s lives remain at risk; continued major support required for 2012

NAIROBI, 18 November 2011 – Following the release of the latest survey findings from the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) in Somalia, UNICEF welcomes the news of a decrease in the number of famine zones across south Somalia.

“Thanks to the strong support from donors around the world since famine was declared in July, thousands of children’s lives have been saved” said UNICEF’s Representative to Somalia, Sikander Khan. 

According to the FSNAU’s latest findings, areas in Middle Shabelle and among displaced populations in Afgoye and Mogadishu remain in famine with previous famine-affected areas – Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle – downgraded to Emergency levels.

However, while the global acute malnutrition and crude death rates have declined in many areas, malnutrition rates continue to remain above the famine threshold levels in a large part of southern Somalia.  Child death rates also remain above crisis levels in several areas. 

Furthermore, large-scale disease outbreaks likely to peak during and immediately after the current rainy season and the approaching long hungry season from March to July continue to make children extremely vulnerable to death and disease over the coming months. 

In total, four million people remain in need of life-saving assistance. 
“Let’s make no mistake about this ongoing situation, children’s lives are still in imminent danger.  The combination of malnutrition, killer diseases and escalating conflict continues to make it a matter of life and death for tens of thousands of children with no respite for them for the majority of 2012," said Khan. 
The generous support from donors has enabled UNICEF to massively scale up its emergency assistance to the most vulnerable children and families.  To-date, around one million people have benefitted from nutrition assistance, including 135,000 severely malnourished children, 1.2 million children have received emergency measles vaccinations, 1.4 million people have access to UNICEF-supplied health care facilities, and 1.8 million people have access to safe water, among other interventions.  In addition, with its current resources and 120 partners across Somalia, UNICEF is continuing to work to expand its emergency programme to reach more children in need in the days and weeks ahead.

To sustain and further expand its response, UNICEF now urgently requires $62 million by the end of November to meet all identified needs for 2011 and keep its pipeline of life-saving nutrition and health supplies open in early 2012.   To ensure the possibility of eliminating famine in the existing three areas and minimize the risk of slipping into famine in all other emergency areas, UNICEF requires nearly $300 million for its multi-sectoral response throughout 2012. 
“We now call on the continued generosity of all of our donors and friends to provide the sustained support the children of Somalia require to make it out of this crisis.  We must stay the course, continuing to do everything in our power to give Somalia’s children their right to survive and make sure famine never happens again” noted Khan.

UNICEF works in 190 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 further information, please contact:
Jaya Murthy, UNICEF Somalia,
Tel + 254 (0) 722 719 867, 

Iman Morooka, UNICEF Somalia,
Tel + 254 714 606 733, 




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