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Saving children in Southern Somalia must be first priority

2011-07-28

More than a million children in need of life-saving interventions
 
NAIROBI, Kenya, 29 July 2011: With an estimated 1.25 million children across Southern Somalia in urgent need of life saving interventions and 640,000 acutely malnourished, UNICEF called for all actors to make saving children's lives the top priority and to urgently support all efforts to reach children in need.

"The children of Southern Somalia desperately need our help. Too many of them have already died and many others are at great risk unless we act now," said Rozanne Chorlton, UNICEF Somalia Representative. "Families shouldn't have to leave their homes, mothers and their children shouldn't have to endure days of perilous journey in search of food and water and then face a life of uncertainty in a camp. All our energy should be focused on saving lives."

To reach children as quickly as possible, UNICEF, along with its partners, has mounted a massive scale up of its operation and is using all avenues available to get supplies into the region. So far this month, the child rights' agency has brought in enough supplementary feeding supplies for 65,000 children in the drought affected regions of Southern Somalia.  These supplies are being distributed by partners on the ground. 

Three flights to Mogadishu, two to Galkayo, and a flight to Baidoa, as well as two ships to Mogadishu have delivered life-saving nutritional commodities. The supplies included a total amount of 653 metric tons of Corn Soya Blend, a nutritious food, enough to feed more than 65,000 vulnerable children, and about 230 metric tons of therapeutic food to treat 16,000 severely malnourished children. Most of these nutritional supplies have already reached children in Mogadishu and the regions of Gedo, Middle Juba, Lower Juba, Bay and Lower Shabelle in southern Somalia.

UNICEF plans to further boost its supply pipeline to support the existing 325 supplementary feeding centers, 16 stabilization centers and 201 outpatient therapeutic feeding centers as well as expand outreach services to reach children in remote areas.

UNICEF will start blanket supplementary feeding for 150,000 households per month, over the next two months. In K-50 (Middle Shabelle), 7000 displaced families received rations of Corn Soya Blend. UNICEF is also working with partners to roll-out wet feeding to provide 8000 people with 3 meals every day in locations where displaced people are arriving.

"Although we have challenges, we are reaching children. For instance, this week, our partners were able to reach 3,550 children with a combination of Corn Soya Blend and ready-to-use therapeutic food in hard-to-reach areas in Qansadheere, Bay region," said Ms. Chorlton.

Next week, a vessel carrying 410 metric tons of Corn Soya Blend to provide blanket feeding for over 20,000 families is expected to dock in Mogadishu. The ship will also deliver F-75 therapeutic milk and ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat more than 7300 severely malnourished children.

UNICEF estimates it will need USD $117 million over the next six months to reach children in all of Somalia's drought affected areas in the south with emergency and preventative assistance. Being the single largest agency delivering therapeutic and supplementary nutrition services in Somalia, UNICEF works through a partnership with about 60 non-governmental organizations in the South.

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.

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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.