Famine, drought and war: time is running out for millions of children

28th March 2017

UNICEF needs $255 million for children in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen

*NOTE* Photos + videos http://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIFDD22Q

NEW YORK/DAKAR/NAIROBI/AMMAN, 28 March 2017 – More than a month after famine was declared in South Sudan, time is running out for more than a million children as drought and armed conflict devastate lives in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, UNICEF said today.

“Children can’t wait for yet another famine declaration before we take action,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes. “We learned from Somalia in 2011 that by the time famine was announced, untold numbers of children had already died. That can’t happen again.”

Some 22 million children have been left hungry, sick, displaced and out of school in the four countries, UNICEF said. Nearly 1.4 million are at imminent risk of death this year from severe malnutrition.

UNICEF needs close to $255 million to provide these children with food, water, health, education and protection for just the next few months, according to a funding update.

Most of the funds – over $81 million – will go towards nutrition programmes to screen children for malnutrition and provide them with therapeutic food.

An additional $53 million will be allocated to health services including vaccinations, while over $47 million will go to water, sanitation and hygiene programmes to prevent potentially deadly diahorreal diseases.

The remaining funds will help protect children affected by conflict and displacement and provide them with education services. Cash assistance will also be offered to the most vulnerable families.

The resources needed over the next few months are part of a broader appeal for all of 2017, totaling $712 million – a 50 per cent increase over funding requirements in the four countries at the same time last year.

UNICEF has been working with partners in the four countries to respond to the famine threat and prevent it from spreading.

Armed conflict is a major cause of this crisis, UNICEF said, calling for unconditional, unimpeded and sustainable access to the children in need and an end to the violations of children’s rights in the affected countries. 

UNICEF also sounded the alarm about a worsening nutrition situation in neighbouring countries.

“As violence, hunger and thirst force people to move within and across borders, malnutrition rates will continue to soar not just in these four countries, but also in the Lake Chad basin and the Greater Horn of Africa,” Fontaine said. “If humanitarian agencies do not get the access and resources they need to reach the most vulnerable, lives will be lost.”

What UNICEF is doing in famine-affected South Sudan

One month since famine was declared in parts of South Sudan, UNICEF – together with the World Food Programme and other partners – has delivered life-saving assistance to 145,000 people, including 33,000 children under the age of five.

Thirteen mobile emergency teams have so far:

 

ENDS

 

*Notes to Editors*

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power is available for interview.

Get photos and videos here: http://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIFDD22Q

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. UNICEF has been operating for 70 years.

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For more information, please contact:

Aedín Donnelly, Communications and Media Manager for UNICEF Ireland | aedin@unicef.ie | Tel: +353 1 809 0281 | Mob: +353 85 1395272

Najwa Mekki, UNICEF New York, +1917 209 1804, nmekki@unicef.org

Patrick Rose, UNICEF Regional Office in Dakar, +221 786 380 250, prose@unicef.org

James Elder, UNICEF Regional Office in Nairobi, +254 71558 1222, jelder@unicef.org

Tamara Kummer, UNICEF Regional Office in Amman, +962 797 588 550, tkummer@unicef.org

Tim Irwin, UNICEF Communication Chief, South Sudan +211 912 162 888 tjirwin@unicef.org

Mercy Kolok  UNICEF/Juba +211 955 639 658 mkolok@unicef.org

Photo: Mother holds her young child’s hand as she is treatead at the UNICEF Nutrition clinic in Somalia.
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