32 millions dollars are needed to save their lives.
This what the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said referring to the urgent need to assist millions of children and women in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti, which are facing what is considered the worst crisis in more than 50 years.
“Half a million of those children are facing imminent life-threatening conditions, with long lasting consequences to their physical and mental development.”, UNICEF said on July 8th.
Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported that it is already assisting six million people in the affected countries, plus eastern Uganda, “but as the impact of the drought grows, we expect this number will rise to as much as 10 million.”
**Drought And Expensive Food**
High food prices and prolonged drought are worsening an already dire situation for thousands of families in need of food and water, according to UNICEF.
“Thousands of families are crossing the border from Somalia as emergency feeding centres are being set up by UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies in neighbouring countries,” the UN agency said.
**The World’s Largest Refugee Camp**
The refugee situation is growing with some 10,000 arriving every week in Dadaab on the border between Somalia and Kenya. Dadaab is the world’s largest refugee camp.
“The threat of disease on already weakened young children is of particular concern and UNICEF is urgently setting up child immunisation campaigns.
UNICEF, government agencies, non-governmental organisations and other UN agencies will be working in the vital areas of water, food and sanitation in the coming days to ward off a massive emergency, said UNICEF.
“However funding shortfalls, and in some areas the denial of access, threaten to disrupt these essential services. UNICEF is asking for 31.9 million dollars for the coming three months to provide life- saving support to the millions of affected children and women.”
WFP estimates it will need around 477 million dollars to address hunger needs in the region through to the end of the year, but it currently has a 40 per cent shortfall in funding amounting to around 190 million dollars.
Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, started a two-day mission to Ethiopia July 7th, to review the humanitarian situation and response to the drought.
“We urgently need to scale up our response in Ethiopia, as in Kenya, Somalia and other countries, to minimise the loss of human life and livestock, which are the chief asset of pastoralist households,” Amos, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said after meeting with government and humanitarian officials.
WFP, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the British-based Oxfam agency issued a joint appeal for a more resilient and longer-lasting response to the drought and other “slow-onset” humanitarian crises.
**More Resilient And Longer-lasting Aid Needed**
Although the international community responds to sudden crises, “unfortunately, ‘slow-onset’ humanitarian crises, such as the worsening drought in the Horn in Africa, have not received the same attention, leaving millions of women, men and children vulnerable to devastating hunger and malnutrition,” they stated.
Barely 10 days earlier, the UN alerted that an estimated 10 million people across the Horn of Africa are facing a severe food crisis following a prolonged drought in the region, with child malnutrition rates in some areas twice the emergency threshold amid high food prices that have left families desperate.
In some areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Uganda, drought conditions are the worst in 60 years, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update.
**Children To Refugee Camps**
Almost half the of children arriving in refugees camps in Ethiopia from southern Somalia are malnourished, while 11 districts in Kenya have reported malnutrition rates above the 15 per cent emergency threshold.
Supplementary and therapeutic feeding programmes are struggling to keep pace with the rising needs, according to OCHA.
Drought-related displacement and refugee flows are on the rise, with an average of 15,000 Somalis arriving in Kenya and Ethiopia every month this year seeking assistance.
**They Walk For Days And Days And Days**
“While conflict has been a fact of life for them for years, it is the drought that has taken them to breaking point. Many have walked for days, are exhausted, in poor health, desperate for food and water, and arriving in a worse condition than usual,” according to the OCHA update on the drought situation in the region.
The influx of Somalis into refugee camps in the Dadaab area of Kenya’s North-Eastern province – the largest refugee settlement in the world – has led to worsening overcrowding amid limited resources.
The drought has forced children out of school as both human and livestock diseases spread. Competition for the meagre resources is causing tensions among communities.
**Price Of Grain Increases Between 30% and 80%**
The price of grain in drought-affected areas of Kenya is 30 to 80 per cent more than the five- year average, according to OCHA, while in Ethiopia, the consumer price index for food increased by almost 41 per cent last month. Further food price hikes area expected in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Somalia, but could ease after the next harvests expected later this year.
OCHA called for the scaling up of the emergency response in all affected areas, urging governments, donors and relief agencies step up efforts to prevent further deterioration.
**The Rich Promise But Do Not Pay**
Further funding is also required to enable humanitarian agencies to provide the necessary assistance. UN agencies and the partners this year requested 529 million dollars for Somalia, but only 50 per cent of that amount has been received.
In Kenya, where 525 million dollars is required, about 54 per cent of that money has been obtained so far. The appeal for Djibouti is for 39 million dollars, but only 30 per cent has been received.
‘The Most Severe Food Crisis In The World And No One Is Helping’
Copyright © 2011 Human Wrongs Watch
This article can be re-published, sourcing to Human Wrongs Watch http://human-wrongs-watch.net