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UNICEF concerned about impact of drought and food crisis on children in the Horn of Africa

2011-06-28

NAIROBI/NEW YORK, 29 June 2011 - 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.

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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.