More than one million children are at risk of death in Somalia, Save the Children warns as the UN announces famine in drought-afflicted nation.
Figures released today show that there is famine in two areas of South Central Somalia - with up to half of children in the worst affected areas suffering from acute malnutrition. Save the Children said that without urgent action, it was inevitable that the famine would continue to spread through South Central and into parts of Puntland, with devastating impact on children and their families.
The crisis has been sparked by a deadly combination of conflict, escalating food prices and failed rains. For weeks, thousands of Somalis have been flooding across the border into Kenya and Ethiopia - some arriving exhausted and too late to get help for their severely malnourished children.
Ben Foot, Save the Children's Somalia country director says: "This declaration of famine has to be a wake-up call for the international community. At the moment, we simply don't have enough funds to meet the scale of the needs in Somalia. If we are to save children's lives over the coming weeks, then we simply have to step up humanitarian activities on a massive scale.
Throughout the growing disaster, Save the Children has been working in South Central Somalia and in Puntland, reaching families with life-saving help, The agency is currently feeding 9000 children at feeding centres across Somalia. In Puntland, the number of malnourished children visiting Save the Children's clinics has almost doubled in the past six months.
The agency is aiming to reach half a million of the most vulnerable children and their families with vital help, including food aid, nutritional support, water and health care.
It is appealing for $100 million to fund its work across the drought-afflicted East Africa region.
Ben Foot continued, "In 1992, famine hit Somalia and 200,000 people died. We are not yet at that crisis point, but unless we act rapidly, many children could lose their lives over the coming months."
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