Horn of Africa crisis one year on – Famine reversed, countless lives saved, but situation of millions of women and children still grave

 

Horn of Africa crisis one year on – Famine reversed, countless lives saved, but situation of millions of women and children still grave

Global News 00:10

NAIROBI/ HONG KONG, 20 July 2012 – A year ago today, the crisis in the Horn of Africa reached boiling point when the United Nations declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia. The extraordinary international support, coupled with favourable rains, helped save countless lives and reverse the famine. However, the crisis is far from over. Eight million people across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are still in need of humanitarian assistance. Children, in particular, are threatened by a combination of poverty, insecurity, malnutrition, and disease.

On 27 July, people collect water during a distribution in a camp for people displaced by the drought, in Mogadishu, the capital. The water is being distributed by troops from AMISOM (the African Union Mission in Somalia) from their base supplies. AMISOM was established by the United Nations to support peace, stability and the safe delivery of humanitarian aid in the country. UNICEF works on all sides of the long-running conflict.  By 29 July 2011, the crisis in the Horn of Africa  affecting primarily Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti  continues, with a worsening drought, rising food prices and an ongoing conflict in Somalia. More than 12 million people are threatened by the regions worst drought in 60 years. Some 500,000 severely malnourished children in drought-affected areas are at imminent risk of dying, while a further 1.6 million moderately malnourished children and the wider-affected population are at high risk of disease. Somalia faces one of the worlds most severe food security crises; and as many as 100,000 displaced people have sought security and assistance in Mogadishu, the still-embattled capital, in the last two months, and tens of thousands are fleeing into Kenya and Ethiopia. Famine has been declared in the Lower Shabelle and Bakool areas, and it is believed all of Southern Somalia could fall into a state of famine without immediate intervention. Across Southern Somalia, 1.25 million children are in urgent need of life-saving assistance, and 640,000 are acutely malnourished. UNICEF has delivered supplementary feeding supplies for 65,000 children and therapeutic food for 16,000 severely malnourished children in Southern Somalia, and is working with UN, NGO and community partners to expand blanket supplementary feeding programmes where needed. UNICEF is also supporting a range of other interventions, including an immunization campaign targeting 40,000 children in Mogadishu. A joint United Nations appeal for humanitarian assistance for the region requires US$2.5 billion, less than half of which has been committed. On 9 August, a child rests on a cot at a nutrition stabilization centre at the District Hospital in the town of Lodwar, capital of Turkana District, in Rift Valley Province. The global acute malnutrition rate in Turkana District is at 37.4 per cent, its highest ever. In this predominantly pastoralist region, many families are selling their livestock to buy increasingly expensive food.  On 26 August 2011, the crisis in the Horn of Africa  affecting primarily Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti  continues, with a worsening drought, rising food prices and ongoing conflict in Somalia. Some 12.4 million people are threatened by the regions worst drought in 60 years. Hundreds of thousands of children are at imminent risk of dying, and over a million more are threatened by malnutrition and disease. In Kenya, 1.7 million children have been affected by the drought, including 220,000 Somali refugee children in the north-eastern town of Dadaab. UNICEF, together with the Government, United Nations, NGO and community partners, is supporting a range of interventions and essential services, especially for the displaced and for refugees, including feeding programmes, immunization campaigns, health outreach, and access to safe water and to improve sanitation. A joint United Nations appeal for humanitarian assistance for the region requires US $2.4 billion, of which 58 per cent has been received to date. A majority of UNICEFs portion of the appeal has been funded.

“While our life-saving interventions and supplies reachedmillions of children and their families, many could not be reachedand remainextremely vulnerable,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Elhadj As Sy. “This was, and continues to be a children’s emergency. We must continue to provide emergency assistance where needed, but must also work more closely with communities to boost their capacities against future shocks.”

On 3 August, health worker unpacks ready-to-eat therapeutic food at a health centre in Odoleka Village, Oromia Region. The food was supplied by UNICEF to treat malnourished children in the village.  In late August 2011, the crisis in the Horn of Africa  affecting primarily Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti  continued, with a worsening drought, rising food prices and ongoing conflict in Somalia. The regions worst drought in 60 years has left 12.4 million people in need of assistance, including 4.8 million in Ethiopia. The Government of Ethiopia estimates that 150,000 children under age five will require treatment for severe acute malnutrition, a deadly condition, by the years end. In addition, over 76,000 refugees from Somalia  which faces one of the worlds severest food security crises  have entered Ethiopia, with a further 200 to 300 arriving every week. Many refugees are dangerously malnourished, and death rates among refugee children have reached alarming levels, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Meanwhile, emergency food reserves are dwindling, and outbreaks of measles have been reported in refugee camps. UNICEF, together with the Government, United Nations, NGO and community partners, is supporting a range of interventions and essential services, especially for the displaced and for refugees, including feeding programmes, immunization campaigns, health outreach, and access to safe water and to improved sanitation. A joint United Nations appeal for humanitarian assistance for the region requires US $2.4 billion, of which 58 per cent has been received to date. A majority of UNICEFs portion of the appeal has been funded. With generous support from donors, who provided about HK$3.1 billion (US$396 million) in 2011,UNICEF was able to expand both its emergency and development work in drought-stricken parts of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, where more than 13 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance. Between July and December 2011, about 63,000 metric tonnes of humanitarian supplies were delivered – half of these were supplementary and therapeutic food. To date, nearly one million children have been treated for malnutrition across the region.

To further build resilience, disaster risk reduction is now being integrated into UNICEF’s emergency and development programmes. Basic services for health, nutrition, sanitation and education at community level are being strengthened. UNICEF is also working with partners to strengthen safety nets for vulnerable families using cash transfers.

With a third of the population, or 2.5 million, still in need of emergency assistance, Somalia remains the worst affected country. In some regions of the South, one in five children is suffering from life-threatening acute malnutrition. In Kenya, 2.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, so are 3.2 million people in Ethiopia. Malnutrition continues to be a serious concern. Currently nearly 900,000 children are suffering from malnutrition in the three countries.

The crisis forced thousands of people out of their homes. There are now more than 626,000 Somali refugees in Kenya and Ethiopia. Inside Somalia, more than one million people are internally displaced, nearly 60 per cent of them are children.Conflict, instability, poor rains and continued restricted access for aid agencies pose a major threat to children and their families. There are already indications that the situation could deteriorate in southern Somalia, where acute malnutrition among children under five in some places is nearly twice the emergency threshold.

Short-term emergency assistance, although crucial to address health, nutrition, and water and sanitation needs, will not prevent future crises. Drawing inspirations from communities’ own responses and coping strategies to crises, UNICEF has been increasingly working over the years on long-term interventions to build resilience and address the needs of the most vulnerable.

On 5 August, Godana Wario fills her jerrycan with water from a collection tank in the ground, in Melbana Village, Mio District, in the drought-affected Borena Zone. The collection tank has just been filled by a tanker truck delivering emergency water supplies. Water delivery is supported by the Borena Zone Emergency Water Taskforce, of which UNICEF is a member.  In late August 2011, the crisis in the Horn of Africa  affecting primarily Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti  continued, with a worsening drought, rising food prices and ongoing conflict in Somalia. The regions worst drought in 60 years has left 12.4 million people in need of assistance, including 4.8 million in Ethiopia. The Government of Ethiopia estimates that 150,000 children under age five will require treatment for severe acute malnutrition, a deadly condition, by the years end. In addition, over 76,000 refugees from Somalia  which faces one of the worlds severest food security crises  have entered Ethiopia, with a further 200 to 300 arriving every week. Many refugees are dangerously malnourished, and death rates among refugee children have reached alarming levels, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Meanwhile, emergency food reserves are dwindling, and outbreaks of measles have been reported in refugee camps. UNICEF, together with the Government, United Nations, NGO and community partners, is supporting a range of interventions and essential services, especially for the displaced and for refugees, including feeding programmes, immunization campaigns, health outreach, and access to safe water and to improved sanitation. A joint United Nations appeal for humanitarian assistance for the region requires US $2.4 billion, of which 58 per cent has been received to date. A majority of UNICEFs portion of the appeal has been funded.

“Traditional coping mechanisms are being stretched to the limit for many communities,” said Mr Sy. “The cycle of crises must be broken through new means of supporting communities to withstand and recover better from disaster.

“We need to preserve our hard-won gains, and invest in children today to prevent similar crises from happening again in the future.”

UNICEF has fully programmed and committed the generous funding received for the Horn of Africa crisis in 2011. To continue its ongoing relief efforts, as well as invest in resilience-building in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, UNICEF needs a total of HK$2.13 billion (US$273 million) for 2012. As of 12 July 2012, only 33 per cent of the funds had been received.

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