Millions of Somali children at risk of dying from starvation without immediate emergency support, warns World Vision

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Hunger and drought in Somalia are destroying livelihoods and have forced more than 800,000 people to flee their homes, with more than 7 million (1) facing severe food insecurity, according to global aid organization World Vision.

Mark Smith, World Vision’s vice president of humanitarian emergency affairs in Baidoa, Somalia. He describes the dire situation on the ground and calls for urgent action to prevent famine.

Mark Smith, World Vision’s vice president of humanitarian emergency affairs in Baidoa, Somalia. He describes the dire situation on the ground and calls for urgent action to prevent famine.

Forecasts indicate the crisis is set to worsen over the coming months, with a record fifth failed rainy season likely across the country. (2) This is Somalia’s worst drought in 40 years (3), with more than 200,000 people one step away from famine-like conditions (4). An estimated 1.5 million Somali children under the age of 5 are at risk of acute malnutrition by the end of the year. (5)

“I’ve met many … families who have walked for days in the hope of reaching areas where they can access food to feed their hungry children,” said Tobias Oloo, acting director of World Vision Somalia. “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.”

Mark Smith, World Vision’s vice president of humanitarian emergency affairs, said the need in Baidoa, Somalia is overwhelming. “We finish doing (food) distributions and a whole new group of people will arrive the following day in desperate need.”

Millions of Somali households are struggling to cope with rising food prices, while drought has decimated crops and livestock, weakening people’s purchasing power. At the same time, displaced children are dropping out of school to migrate or work in order to earn their next meal.

 

Fifteen-year-old Suldana receives 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 war 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 42% of the funds required to meet existing needs have been provided.

“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 5 years of age,” said Oloo. “We are calling on the international community to immediately prioritize the lives of millions of children and their families who [are at] risk of dying from starvation. The time to act is now.”

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. With staff in nearly 100 countries, World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.

World Vision’s work in Somalia includes providing food, cash, nutrition and water assistance, and child protection support to families affected by drought and hunger. To date, our emergency response has reached over a million people, including half a million children.

Mogadishu-Somalia

 

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