Half-a-million hungry Somalian kids at risk of dying

Catastrophic hunger levels in Somalia have left more than 513,000 children at risk of dying, 173,000 more than during the 2011 famine, UN humanitarians warned recently.

In a call for immediate funding to help vulnerable communities hit by successive droughts, high food prices and conflict, the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, the World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organization stressed that the emergency shows no signs of letting up.

Without action, famine “will occur within the next few weeks,” FAO said.

The UN agency added that drought-related deaths “have been occurring” and the toll could be much higher in hard-to-reach rural areas, compared with the number recorded in camps for displaced families.

Somalia is facing the risk of an unprecedented famine. | Photograph courtesy of UN

“Nightmare” not seen this century

During the famine of 2011, 340,000 children required treatment for severe acute malnutrition, UNICEF spokesperson James Elder told journalists in Geneva.

“Today, it’s 513,000,” he added. “It’s a pending nightmare we have not seen this century.”

According to FAO, approximately 6.7 million people across Somalia will likely endure high levels of acute food insecurity between October and December this year.

This includes more than 300,000 who have been left “empty-handed” by the country’s triple emergency and who are expected to fall into famine.

Livestock dropping dead

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

The perilous situation of those forced from their homes by hunger in Baidoa town of Bay region in Southern Somalia is particularly concerning, Peterschmitt added.

“The repeated warnings have been clear: Act now or a famine will occur within the next few weeks,” he insisted.

“The drought situation is spreading at an alarming rate; more districts and regions are facing emergency levels of food insecurity as the cumulative effects of multiple failed rainy seasons take their toll.”

In a call for radical change to stop famine happening again, Elder described the disturbing scenes already playing out in Somalia’s worst-affected region.

Everyday bugs now deadly
“Children are already dying,” he said. “Our partners report that some stabilization centers are in fact full and critically-ill children are receiving treatment on the floor.”

With greater funding, more severe and acutely malnourished children can be given life-saving food, which will make them strong enough to ward off diseases, just like healthier youngsters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *