The estimated number of acutely-malnourished children in Somalia has risen by 50 percent to 1.4 million since the beginning of 2017, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday.
In a statement, UNICEF said the situation might be far worse than the famine of 2011 in Somalia which claimed the lives of an estimated 260,000 children.
Steven Lauwerier, the UN body’s Somalia representative, said the organization and other stakeholders have treated more than 56,000 severely-malnourished children, which is 90 percent more than they treated last year in the same period, since the beginning of the year.
“The combination of drought, disease, and displacement are deadly for children, and we need to do far more, and faster, to save lives,” Lauwerier said, adding that displacement due to lack of rains is aggravating the situation.
“New population movements will further aggravate the situation. Those who remain at home need urgent assistance so that they do not need to flee; and those who have already fled, and are now in camps, are extremely vulnerable — children most of all,” he added.
According to United Nations, at least 615,000 people have been displaced in Somalia alone since 2016 by the drought, affecting more than 11 million people in East Africa; 40,000 children in Somalia have stopped attending school classes due to the drought.
Out of the $148 million appeal UNICEF had set, it has only received $78.7 million, leaving a 47 percent funding gap, the UN body added.