UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake arrives in Nairobi today to strengthen the concerted response by UN agencies and partners to the humanitarian crisis, which is threatening to engulf millions of people, many of whom are children.
The crisis in the region is being fueled by drought, soaring food prices and conflict in Somalia. An estimated 10 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. Almost 500,000 children in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are suffering from imminent, life-threatening severe malnutrition. In addition, over 1.6 million children under the age of five are acutely malnourished.
In addition to the thousands of people from Somalia seeking refuge in Ethiopia and Kenya, millions more are living on the brink of extreme poverty and hunger, suffering the consequences of failed rains and the impact of climate change.
During his visit, Mr. Lake will have meetings with other United Nations agencies and partners. On Saturday, he will travel to Turkana, a district in the northwest of Kenya with a population of 850,000, most of whom are pastoralists. The drought and the rise in food prices have deepened the chronic poverty in the district to a point of extreme crisis and malnutrition rates have reached emergency levels. He will meet with local authorities, health workers and community members. This area, along with other parts of Northern Kenya, are in urgent need of additional support.
The children’s agency has appealed for USD$31.8 million for the Horn of Africa over the next three months to rapidly ramp-up response aimed especially at children, who are suffering the brunt of the crisis. UNICEF says the most urgent needs include therapeutic feeding, vitamin supplementation, water and sanitation services, child protection measures and immunization.