Somalia Famine Warning: Children's Lives Are At Risk

Photo: Agence Vu for Action Against Hunger, Somalia
Photo: Agence Vu for Action Against Hunger, Somalia

Over a million children’s lives are hanging in the balance in South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia. Without help, they are at imminent risk of dying from life-threatening malnutrition.

Famine was officially declared in parts of South Sudan last week – the first time anywhere in the world since 2011. But South Sudan is not the only country facing a catastrophe. The children of Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria are at risk of famine too. 

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Somalia is facing a severe drought in a context of persistent armed conflict and difficult access to basic services, causing an alarming deterioration in the food and nutrition situation of Somali families.

Currently, there are already 363,000 children suffering from malnutrition, and nearly 6.2 million people - or 50% of the population - in need of humanitarian assistance.

These elements reminiscent of the beginnings of the 2011 famine that killed nearly 250,000 people.  

There is still time to avoid the worst

"All indicators are alerting us in recent months about an imminent disaster. We can still avoid the worst of these families by deploying large-scale programs now," says Hajir Maalim, Regional Director of Operations for Action Against Hunger.

Children are extremely vulnerable right now. Many of them will not reach their fifth birthday. They are in urgent need of treatment. 

Our immediate priority today is to save lives. But needs are immense and in many of the affected areas we have reached a deadly tipping point. Now these crises are projected to worsen over the next six months unless a major response is mobilized. 

Together, we must do everything in our power to save lives.

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Action Against Hunger has been present in Somalia since 1992 and our teams are working in 5 offices across the country. Last year we helped over 177,000 people. 

We are providing emergency nutritional assistance, and water, hygiene, and sanitation assistance, particularly through clean water distribution. Priority continues to be given to strengthening nutrition programs for children under five and pregnant and lactating women.

We plan to multiply our efforts and cover wider areas to assist vulnerable populations closest to their homes and according to identified needs. We are ready to assist more than 200,000 people in the coming weeks.

We Must Act Now

In some areas, our aid workers are the only providers of assistance to the population. Ayan is 50 years old, and from her village of Qarhis in Somalia she calls for help:

"I am sending a message to anyone who can hear my call to help us. We no longer have a farm or access to the sea to fish, we no longer have water, our camels and goats are dying, we need help and support. "

We need to take urgent action today to prevent children from sliding even deeper into tragedy. The time to act is now.

Thank you for your vital support.