Children Malnutrition in Somalia: Effective and Rapid Action is Crucial to Avoid an Unprecedented Catastrophe
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
To describe the unprecedented tragedy the country is experiencing, spokesperson for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), James Elder, warned that “Today in Somalia, every single minute of every single day, a child is admitted to a health facility for treatment of severe acute malnutrition. The latest admission rates from August show 44,000 children admitted with severe acute malnutrition. That is a child per minute.” (UNICEF Spokesperson, James Elder, during press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, 2022) Despite thousands of children having positively reacted to treatment, major concerns remain for those living in areas with poor access to health assistance. (UN News, 2022)
The humanitarian crisis in Somalia is a global emergency that for more than two decades have exposed individuals, particularly children and women, to extreme poverty, insecurity, lack of education and health care, as well as grave human rights violations such as trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse. Climate shocks and conflicts have forced thousands of people to flee their homes, while more than 7 million Somali are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 5 million children. (UNICEF, 2020; OCHA, 2022) The UN reported that water scarcity and famine have required a 55 percent increase of humanitarian funds, with a 2022 appeal amounting to $2.26 billion, 80 percent of which destined to drought response. (UN News, 2022) The failure of four consecutive rainy seasons in the Horn of Africa, along with the COVID-19 economic impacts and the food crisis resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has led to catastrophic outcomes. The danger of a repeat of the 2011 famine, which resulted in the death of more than 260,000 people, is real. (Save the Children, 2022) "Without greater action and investment, we are facing the death of children on a scale not seen in half a century,” Mr. Elder warned. Acting rapidly and effectively is of crucial importance to avoid further harm for Somali people and children. (UNICEF Spokesperson, James Elder, during press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, 2022)
Sources and Further Readings:
OCHA (2022), Somalia Data, retrieved on October 19th, 2022, from https://www.unocha.org/somalia.
Save the Children (July 7, 2022), Somalia: Severe Malnutrition Among Children Soars 300% Since January, Save the Children, retrieved on October 19th, 2022, from https://www.savethechildren.net/news/somalia-severe-malnutrition-among-children-soars-300-january#:~:text=At%20least%201.5%20million%20children,children%20come%20to%20the%20clinic..
United Nations (October 18, 2022), Somalia: UNICEF warns of unprecedented child deaths, UN News, retrieved on October 19th, 2022, from https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/10/1129642.
UNICEF(2020), Emergencies: Somalia, retrieved on October 19th, from https://www.unicef.org/somalia/emergencies.
UNICEF, (October 18, 2022), UNICEF warns of unprecedented numbers of child deaths in Somalia, UNICEF Spokesperson, James Elder, during press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, retrieved on October 19th, 2022, from https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/unicef-warns-unprecedented-numbers-child-deaths-somalia.