Catastrophic hunger levels leave 500,000 children at risk of dying in Somalia |

In a call for immediate funding to help communities vulnerable to successive droughts, high food prices and conflict, the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEFWorld food program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) emphasizes that the state of emergency shows no signs of giving up.

Without action, famine”will happen in the next few weeks,” said the FAO.

The UN agency added that the death toll related to the drought “has already happened” and that the number is likely to be much higher in hard-to-reach rural areas, compared with those recorded in camps for children. families have to relocate.

A ‘nightmare’ never seen in this century

During the 2011 famine, 340,000 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition, UNICEF spokesman James Elder told journalists in Geneva. “Today is 513,000,” he added. “It’s a pending nightmare that we haven’t seen in this century. “

According to the FAO, approximately 6.7 million people across Somalia are likely to experience high levels of severe food insecurity between October and December this year (IPC Phase 3 and later). up).

This includes more than 300,000 people were “empty hands” because of the country’s three-sided emergency and those who are expected to fall into starvation (IPC Phase 5).

Free-range cattle

In pastoral communities, where herders are desperately searching for pasture, “they are watching their livestock die like flies,” said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Representative in Somalia.

Mr. Peterschmitt added that the dire situation of people forced from their homes because of hunger in the Bay region town of Baidoa in southern Somalia, is particularly worrying.

“The repeated warnings are clear: act now or there will be famine in the next few weeks,” he insisted.

“The drought situation is spreading at an alarming rate; Many districts and regions are facing food insecurity at an urgent level as the cumulative effect of many failed rainy seasons has affected them. “

In a call for radical change to prevent a recurrence of hunger, UNICEF’s Elder described disturbing scenes unfolding in the worst-affected region of Somalia.

Somalia is facing the risk of an unprecedented famine

UN photo / Fardosa Hussein

Somalia is facing the risk of an unprecedented famine

The everyday bugs are now dead

“Children are dying slowly,” he said. “Ours partners report that some stabilization centers are in fact full and critically ill children are being treated at the floor.. “

With greater funding, children who are severely malnourished and severely malnourished can be provided with lifesaving food that makes them strong enough to fight disease, just like healthier children.

“This is not just a nutrition problem, severely malnourished children are in fact up to 11 times more likely to die from things like diarrhea and measles than well-nourished boys and girls,’ Mr Elder said, adding that both diseases “are spiking” in the hardest hit areas.

The UN response involves reaching the most vulnerable communities to prevent mass displacement before famine is declared, to help promote faster recovery.

Humanitarian assistance is growing and reaches an average of 3.1 million people per month from April to June 2022 and 4.5 million per month from July to September 2022, according to FAO’s Peterschmitt.

“We know that half of the deaths in 2011 occurred before the famine was declared,” said El-Khidir Daloum, WFP Somalia Representative and Country Director.

“As we talk right now, we are targeting 15 areas classified as hard to reach and we are scaling up with UNICEF, nutrition and priority areas. “

In June, UNICEF reported that 386,000 children aged 6 to 59 months needed treatment for severe acute malnutrition. “That number has grown (today) to over half a million, to 513,000; that’s a 33% increase. Put another way, that means an extra 127,000 children are at risk of dying,” said Elder.

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