8 September 2011

Dear friends:

Somalia has become a forgotten emergency.

Famine is raging across six regions today, caused by a triple threat: conflict, high food prices and drought.

I would like to offer some facts about the aid effort in Somalia, having recently travelled there.

My most powerful impression is of fantastic life saving work. I came away well aware of the suffering and the challenges but also confident that we are making a real difference.  

There is no easy solution and no one agency can solve the problem. Governments, NGOs and all humanitarian actors need to continue to work together. The humanitarian community has worked hard in recent years to strengthen coordination systems and last week I saw excellent cooperation on the ground.

UNICEF supports 800 feeding centres across Somalia, about 500 of them in the south, where we are working to more than double the number of severely malnourished children we reach, from 7,500 to 17,000 per month.

We are also aiming to feed 1.2 million people to prevent malnourishment.

In addition, we will be providing health kits to support clinics and health posts to cover more than 2 million people and are targeting two million children with measles vaccinations.

Since famine was first declared – just over six week ago - UNICEF has 158 staff working inside Somalia and has sent in aid by 58 chartered flights, five ships and 78 trucks – and this is to Somalia alone.

We are reaching the families who have stayed in their communities as well as those on the move.

Insecurity has compounded the challenge of access and we cannot always work as quickly in Somalia as in emergencies in other countries. But we are getting there. We are able to do all of this through relationships we have built up with local communities and a network of more than 70 partner NGOs.

The UK public has donated more than £6 million to UNICEF and the truth is that it is buying and delivering aid to famine-stricken Somalia, as well as the hard hit areas of Kenya and Ethiopia.

It is possible to strengthen the resilience of communities so that they can cope better with future droughts – but we can only do so by working together through the challenges and complexities.

Yours truly,
David Bull

UNICEF UK's Executive Director David Bull meets displaced families in Dhoobley, Somalia in September 2011 © UNICEF/2011
UNICEF UK's Executive Director David Bull meets displaced families in Dhoobley, Somalia in September 2011© UNICEF/2011