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As impact of drought worsens, UNICEF scales up humanitarian response

2011-07-14

NAIROBI/NEW YORK/GENEVA/LONDON, 15 July 2011 - UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake has arrived in Nairobi 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. 

Canadians can support UNICEF's emergency efforts in the Horn of Africa by donating online at www.unicef.ca/hornofafrica or calling 1 800 567-4483.  

Note to editors: Photos and b-roll of the humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa available upon request.  

About UNICEF
UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.