Wednesday June 8, 2022
The United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday
appealed for urgent funding to help avert an “explosion of child deaths” which
it said is looming in East Africa if the world does not act immediately.
UNICEF’s Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern
Africa, Rania Dagash said more than 1.7 million children across Ethiopia,
Kenya, and Somalia, are in urgent need of treatment for severe acute
“All three countries have recorded a significantly higher
number of severely malnourished children admitted for treatment in the first
quarter of 2022 compared to the first quarter of 2021,” Dagash said in a statement.
She said the cost of the life-saving therapeutic food the UN
agency uses to treat children with severe acute malnutrition is projected to
rise by 16 percent globally over the next six months, meaning UNICEF will
require an estimated additional 12 million U.S. dollars in East Africa alone.
“If the world does not widen its gaze from the war in
Ukraine, and act immediately, an explosion of child deaths is about to happen
in the Horn of Africa,” Dagash said.
She said UNICEF and other agencies have been repeatedly
sounding the alarm bell on this crisis and lauded the donors who have made
contributions that have enabled the UN agencies to respond to the crisis.
Dagash said the international community – led by the G7 who
will meet in Germany in June – needs to commit new, additional funding now to
“Focus on Ukraine cannot lead to neglect of other crises and
ultimately more loss of life. We also want to see G7 leaders commit to acting
early in future emergencies and investing in long-term resilience work – like
nutrition, water, education, and cash transfer programmes,” Dagash said.
UNICEF, which has just concluded a visit to Somalia, said
Somali children are living on the frontlines of the climate crisis now.
“We need to see significant step-change from the donor
community to adequately support families to weather these cyclical climatic
shocks,” she said.
An estimated 386,000 children in Somalia are now in
desperate need of treatment for life-threatening severe acute malnutrition –
exceeding the 340,000 children who required treatment at the time of the 2011
famine, according to UNICEF.
It said the number of children facing this most deadly form
of malnutrition has increased by more than 15 percent in the space of five
Four rainy seasons have failed in the space of two years –
killing crops and livestock and drying up water sources, the UN said, noting
that forecasts suggest the next October to December rains are likely to fail
This year, Dagash said, in some of the worst affected areas
in the Horn of Africa, three times as many children have already died from
severe acute malnutrition with medical complications in in-patient treatment
centers compared to the whole of the previous year.
“Between February and May, the number of households without
reliable access to clean and safe water almost doubled from 5.6 million to 10.5
million,” she said.
Dagash said the lives of children in the Horn of Africa are
also at increased risk because of the war in Ukraine, noting that Somalia alone
used to import 92 percent of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine but supply lines
are now blocked.
“The war is exacerbating spiraling global food and fuel
prices, meaning many people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia can no longer afford
the basic foodstuffs they need to survive,” Dagash said. (ANI/Xinhua)