Some 1.4 million children in Somalia are projected to be acutely malnourished this year, an increase of 50 per cent over last year, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today announced.
The figure includes more than 275,000 children who have or will suffer life-threatening severe acute malnutrition.
“The combination of drought, disease and displacement are deadly for children, and we need to do far more, and faster, to save lives,” Steven Lauwerier, UNICEF Somalia Representative.
Somalia is in the midst of a drought after rains failed in November 2016, for a third year in the row. About 615,000 people looking for food and water have been displaced since then.
The women and children who make the trek, generally on foot, to places where they hope to find assistance, are often robbed or worse, both on the way to, and in camps. While there have been some reports of sexual abuse, including rape, according to the UN agency. Some children have been conscripted into armed groups.
Since April, it has rained in parts of Somalia, but there are concerns that if they come in full, they could spread disease among children living in makeshift shelters made out of twigs and cloth, or tarps.
“If assistance doesn’t reach families, more people will be forced off their land into displacement camps. Outbreaks of malaria are already imminent, as is an upsurge of cholera,” UNICEF said.