Millions of Children at Risk of Dying in Somalia, World Vision Warns

Hunger and drought in Somalia are destroying livelihoods and have forced more than 800,000 people to flee their homes, with more than seven million people facing severe food insecurity, according to the international aid agency World Vision.

Forecasts indicate the crisis is set to worsen over the coming months, with a record fifth failed rainy season likely across the country. (3) It is Somalia’s worst drought in 40 years with more than 200,000 people one step away from famine-like conditions. An estimated 1.5 million Somali children under the age of five are at risk of acute malnutrition by the end of the year. (2)

“I’ve met many children and their families who have walked for days in the hope of reaching areas where they can access food to feed their hungry children. Most mothers we meet at our nutrition clinics have at least one child who is malnourished. Some of their children died before they could reach help,” said World Vision Somalia acting national director, Tobias Oloo.

The child-focused organisation said that millions of Somali households are struggling to cope with rising food prices, while drought has decimated crops and livestock. At the same time, displaced children are dropping out of school to migrate or work in order to earn their next meal.

15-year-old Suldana receives US 70 cents a day for doing housework. “I wash dishes and do other light chores… I do this every day, all day because I have to bring food to my family. Sometimes it is hard to get customers. Some of the customers are bad people. They mistreat you, especially when you are a girl,” she said.

World Vision fears that the conflict in Ukraine has distracted global attention from a hunger crisis that has been accelerating across the Horn of Africa for months. Somalia’s humanitarian appeal remains significantly underfunded; only 29 percent of the funds required to meet Somalia’s humanitarian needs have been provided. (1)

“We know from experience that vulnerable children suffer the most in crisis situations. In the 2011 Somalia famine, half of the 250,000 people who died were children under five years of age. We are calling on the international community to immediately prioritise the lives of millions of children and their families who could risk of dying from starvation. The time to act is now,” said Mr. Oloo. 

Written by:  Carey Ellis

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