UNICEF declares a ‘Children’s famine’ and calls for immediate funds in order to scale up critical work

In response to the UN declaration of famine in two regions of southern Somalia today, UNICEF are calling for more funds to scale up their critical work in the region and encouraging the UK public to support them urgently to help save children’s lives.

David Bull, Executive Director of UNICEF UK, said this morning:

‘This is a children’s famine, but it’s not getting the attention that it urgently needs.  Amid all the coverage of phone hacking we need to pay a lot more attention to it – people need our help and they need it now.

There’s more in the news this morning about shaving foam then there is about nutritional supplies for children who need to have their lives saved. This is unforgiveable.’

He continued; ‘UNICEF is already helping thousands of severely malnourished children across that region, ensuring they have life-saving nutrition supplies. But we need to do much more in order to reach every child and stop children dying. With your help, we can and we are saving thousands of children’s lives right now.’

Across the country, nearly half of the Somali population – 3.7 million people – are now in crisis, half of whom are children.

Famine is declared when acute malnutrition rates among children exceed 30 per cent; more than 2 people per 10,000 die per day; and people are not able to access food and other basic necessities. In some regions of Somalia acute malnutrition is now exceeding 50 percent and UNICEF is recording at least 6 per 10,000 children dying daily.

UNICEF is the organisation with the largest presence in Somalia and has been working in the country since 1972. Since the collapse of the Somali government in 1991, UNICEF has continued to support the children of Somalia and earlier this month was the first to airlift supplies into the Al-Shabaab controlled regions of the country.  Currently UNICEF is supporting more than 800 Nutrition Centres across Somalia, including about 400 Outpatient Therapeutic Programme centres where severely malnourished children are treated.

Safe drinking water is also being provided to around 1.2 million people across Somalia including in Mogadishu and IDP (internally displaced people) camps in the Afgoye area.

This work is already being scaled up so that UNICEF can provide supplementary feeding to over 500,000 families in the next 3 to 6 months, as well as expanding the provision of safe water supplies and increasing immunisation services to prevent the outbreak of disease, but much more money is urgently needed in order to reach every child that needs help.

To donate to UNICEF’s East Africa Appeal please go to www.unicef.org.uk, call 0800 037 9797, or text* FAMINE to 70099 to make a £10 donation.
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For further information please contact:
Terry Ally, UNICEF UK, Tel: 020 7375 6014
Or call the UNICEF UK press office on 020 7375 6030