Friday April 21, 2017
This photo taken on March 15, 2017 shows a malnourished child being weighed by an aid worker for a UNICEF- funded health program for children displaced by drought at a facility in Baidoa town, Somalia. (Photo by AFP)
Somalia, a country hit by severe levels of drought, is facing huge risks of famine, an international aid group warns.
Save the Children said Thursday that life-threatening child malnutrition levels were alarming in Somalia, adding that the situation was “very critical” in two of six districts assessed in some of the worst-affected parts of the country.
Hassan Saadi Noor, the aid group’s Somalia director, said children could die in “significant numbers” due to famine.
“We are on the brink of a massive catastrophe in Somalia with the death of three quarters of the country's livestock, a rapid increase of children suffering severe malnutrition and the depletion of water stores in dozens of communities,” said Noor, adding, “Famine is a distinct possibility for Somalia.”
The humanitarian activist said that more than half of the population of Somalia, around 6.2 million, needed immediate lifesaving assistance as a result of drought in the country, while a further 8.3 million living in countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, including those stranded in refugee camps, needed urgent help.
Results of a recent study suggest that immediate action was needed to prevent a catastrophe in Somali, including a major and rapid scaling up of feeding schemes, or there is the risk that children could start dying in the near future.
The study said a nutrition program launched in Somalia has only covered less than 10 percent of children.
“It is an absolute travesty that this is even conceivable when just six years ago this same region was hit by a famine that killed over 250,000 people,” said Noor.
“Donors have stepped up in recent months; however such is the scale of this crisis that even more funding is needed to address malnutrition directly.”