East Africa Famine: An update from Somalia
Southern Somalia remains one of the hardest-hit areas in the current famine. As the crisis continues to worsen, SOS Children are helping as many families as possible, by providing food, specialised treatment for malnourished children, as well as general health services. We are also setting up processes to ensure the safety of unaccompanied and vulnerable children.
According to the UN, food aid in Somalia has increased two-fold since July. However, the relief efforts to reach families remains disrupted due to ongoing insecurity and a ban on some international organisations operating in the Southern regions. SOS Children have permission to operate in rebel-controlled areas, and are working hard to help as many families as possible.
Close to Baidoa, in central Somalia, SOS Children have registered 1,000 families to receive regular food aid. Last week, in the villages of Imamushafici and Ibnu Abas, these families (all together 5,621 people) received food packages. 22% of the beneficiaries were children under the age of five years, and 94% of the families were female-headed.
Approximately 450,000 Somali children are malnourished, including 190,000 who suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition. SOS Children continue to scale up its nutritional program in the capital Mogadishu and in Baidoa. During the last week, 91 new children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition have begun receiving treatment and it is hoped they will make a full recovery.
In the refugee camps, diseases such as Acute Watery Diarrhea, Measles, Malaria and Acute Respiratory infections are rife. In a population already weakened by hunger, many people are unable to fight off infections.
SOS Children’s emergency health centers in Mogadishu and Baidoa continue to treat an increasing number of patients to be busy and receiving increasing number of patients. The centre in Mogadishu treated 843 patients; 39% of these children under the age of five years. SOS Children are offering vaccinations in an attempt to stem the spread of highly infectious diseases including measles. The SOS Health Centre in Baidoa treated 786 patients in the last week, many of these pregnant and breastfeeding women.
We are currently undergoing an assessment of children living in the refugee camps, in order to determine how children’s needs can best be met, and well as to establish and address any child protection concerns.