As the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa continues to worsen, UNICEF today released new figures about the extent of the crisis and warned that it expects 480,000 severely malnourished children in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia this year - about 50% more than in 2009.

In the south of Somalia, which is amongst the worst affected areas and where humanitarian assistance has been the most restricted, at least one in three children is severely malnourished, and conditions are the worst they have been in a decade, the children’s agency warned. In Ethiopia, almost half of the children arriving at refugee camps are malnourished.

“Children in East Africa are facing a desperate few months,” said David Bull, Director, UNICEF UK. “UNICEF continues to provide emergency nutrition and support in the refugee camps, but we urgently need more money for this lifesaving work.

“In particular, in Somalia where UNICEF is the largest provider of supplies and expertise for nutrition, $10m is needed for the next month alone, otherwise many more children will die of hunger.”

In drought affected areas of Kenya, monthly admissions for the treatment of severe malnutrition are 78 per cent higher than last year.

UNICEF is providing 100% of therapeutic feeding in Kenya through funding of partners and technical support, and is working with UNHCR to scale up assistance to children in refugee camps in Kenya Ethiopia

In the Turkana district of Kenya, global acute malnutrition rates are the highest ever recorded in the district, at 37.4 per cent.

At therapeutic feeding centres in refugee camps in Kenya there have been more deaths among Somali children in the first quarter of 2011 than in all of last year.  The camps are extremely overcrowded, and the basics – safe water, sanitation, food and shelter – are inadequate.

Note to editors: UNICEF spokespeople are available to do interviews, either from the Horn of Africa or from London. To request an interview please call the UNICEF UK Press office on 020 7375 6030.

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UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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: