With a major food and refugee crisis looming in the Horn of Africa due to a deadly combination of drought, on-going conflict and escalating food prices, UNICEF calls on local governments and donors to lead a rapid humanitarian response. According to UNICEF, millions of children and women are at risk from death and disease unless a rapid and speedy response is put into action.
As usual, vulnerable and disadvantaged children are the ones who suffer the most. Over 9 million people are already in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, close to 2 million of them are children under the age of five.
This volatile region has seen many crises. The current one, talked of as the worst for 60 years, threatens thousands of families already living in the direst of conditions. The past months have been the driest in six decades in parts of the region. Global Acute Malnutrition rates in Northern Kenya are now above 25 per cent with records of 37.4 per cent in the Turkana district.
Thousands of families are crossing the border from Somalia on their way to the refugee camps in Dolo Ado in Ethiopia and Dadaab in Kenya, which are already completely overwhelmed.
UNICEF is directly supporting the rehabilitation of moderately and severely malnourished children in partnership with government health services, NGOs and community organizations. Similar partnerships have enabled vital child immunization campaigns, health outreach support, programmes to ensure access to safe water and improve sanitation particularly in IDP and refugee camps.
However, funding shortfalls and in some areas, the denial of access, threaten to disrupt these essential services.