The UN children’s fund (UNICEF) is appealing for 147.9 million U.S. dollars to scale up life-saving assistance for women and children to help avert a famine in Somalia. In its situation report released on Tuesday, UNICEF said it has a funding gap of 38 percent against the revised appeal, stating that continued and timely donor support is critical to scale up the response and avert a famine. “Adequate, predictable and flexible resources will allow UNICEF and its partners to respond effectively where needs are greatest and reach the most disadvantaged children,” the report says. “The projected number of children who are, or will be, acutely malnourished has increased by 50 percent since the beginning of the year to 1.4 million, including over 275,000 who have or will suffer life threatening severe acute malnutrition in 2017,” UNICEF said.
According to UNICEF, an estimated 4 million children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia. Despite the large scale humanitarian assistance delivered, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWs Net) post Jilal assessment indicates an elevated risk of famine due to a combination of severe food insecurity, high acute malnutrition, and high disease burden. “In light of the scale of internal displacements to urban centres, it is critical to scale up access to sanitation and hygiene services,” UNICEF said. The number of people in need has increased to 6.7 million, including 3.2 million people in crisis.
According to the UN agency, severely malnourished children are nine times more likely to die of killer diseases like acute watery diarrhoea (AWD)/cholera and measles. During the 2011 famine that killed an estimated 260,000 people, over half of them young children, the main causes of death among children were diarrhoea and measles. “As of week 18, close to 38,000 cases of AWD/cholera have been reported; 2.4 times more than the 2016 caseload. Since the start of the year, 683 deaths have been recorded, with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 1.8 percent,” the report says. The report says over 7,000 measles cases have been reported across Somalia since the start of the year, exceeding the total 2016 caseload as UNICEF and partners continue to scale up the response with more than 350,000 children immunized against measles in 2017.