As the devastating drought in Somalia shows no sign of ending, UNICEF's lifesaving work for women and children has received a boost from the Government of the People's Republic of China. A contribution of US$2 million will help UNICEF reach 15,000 young children who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, in the southern and central regions.
The humanitarian crisis, which was triggered by the failure of consecutive rainy seasons, has led to massive displacement, disease outbreaks and malnutrition, with 6.2 million people - half of the country's population - now in need of humanitarian assistance. Some four million of them are children.
"Through UNICEF, we hope to reach the affected populations, especially those in remote places, with lifesaving services," said the Chinese Ambassador to Somalia, Qin Jian. "We are committed to supporting the humanitarian response led by the Somali Government, and pleased to be working with UNICEF to ensure the needs of the most vulnerable group - children and women - are met. Together, we can to help the Somali people go through this difficult time."
Since the beginning of 2017, UNICEF, working through implementing partners, has provided treatment for severe acute malnutrition to over 200,000 children, nearly all of whom recovered. However, the needs remain immense. Over the next year, UNICEF estimates there could be more than 230,000 children with severe acute malnutrition.
The funding will help to treat the 15,000 children with a therapeutic peanut-based paste. The supplies will be distributed at facilities and mobile sites as part of an integrated package of health, nutrition and water and sanitation services for people in the most affected areas. Some 120,000 children and their mothers are covered under the integrated services approach.
"Thanks to the generous joint response by the international community, we have managed to avert a famine so far," said UNICEF Representative, Steven Lauwerier. "However, sustained assistance is needed throughout 2018 to prevent the loss of lives and the collapse of livelihoods. The timely aid from the Chinese Government and the Chinese people will go a long way towards saving children's lives. We hope this will be the beginning of a long and productive partnership between China and UNICEF in Somalia."