UNICEF worries funding shortfalls may threaten critical assistance to Somalia

22 October 2009

A shortfall in funding may jeopardize the humanitarian assistance that is urgently needed for roughly 3.6 million people in Somalia, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

A shortfall in funding may jeopardize the humanitarian assistance that is urgently needed for roughly 3.6 million people in Somalia, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Health is a major concern as only 29 per cent of the population has access to safe water, and this is now being aggravated by drought, the agency noted in a news release.

Nutrition also continues to be a critical concern, with one in five children acutely malnourished, and one in 20 severely malnourished and at risk of death without proper treatment.

“The situation is deteriorating further such that 3.6 million people are now living in humanitarian crisis, and over 50 per cent of them are under 18 and over 20 per cent are under five,” said UNICEF Somalia Country Representative Rozanne Chorlton.

Ms. Chorlton said $4.5 million is needed to complete essential life-saving activities before the end of the year, while another $5.7 million is needed to start ordering supplies for next year.

UNICEF has been scaling-up treatment programmes for moderately and severely acutely malnourished children across Somalia. It has already reached more than 132,000 high-risk children under with malnutrition prevention programmes.

In Jowhar, where UNICEF’s compound and warehouse were looted earlier this year and distribution of a new ready-to-use food product, Plumpy'doz, was disrupted, the agency is working to provide types of nutritional supplements that are less vulnerable to looting.

It is also working to ensure access to basic primary health care for about 2.5 million people each year. During the first round of the Child Health Days which was completed in June, over one million children under five and over 800,000 women of child-bearing age received a package of health services including vaccinations, water purification tablets and nutritional screenings.

In addition, UNICEF is assisting schools and teachers to help keep the country’s educational system operational, including by helping to provide almost all primary school supplies and textbooks.

UNICEF noted that working in Somalia has never been more difficult, with direct hostilities targeting UN facilities, assets and even humanitarian supplies. The agency’s staff in Somalia stress, however, that the humanitarian response for children and women will continue.

 

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