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90K Somali Children Could Die Without More Support

UNICEF Warns 90,000 Somali Children Could Die Without Increased Support

New York, Feb 14 2008 - About 90,000 children in war-ravaged Somalia could die in the next few months without immediate supplementary nutrition and therapeutic feeding, an official with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said today, calling for stepped-up international support.

Due to a lack of adequate funding, the agency - which is urgently appealing for $10 million for nutritional, water and sanitation programmes - said it maybe be forced to close its nutritional centres and cease delivering drinking water in two weeks.

"If we cannot maintain the activities that we have been running up to now, you will see a crisis," said UNICEF's Christian Balslev-Olesen. "You will see many children dying, [although] hopefully not like the beginning of the 1990s where between 200,000 and 300,000 people died within a few months in Somalia."

Fighting has intensified in recent months in the Horn of Africa nation, which has not had a functioning government since 1991.

To date, UNICEF said that its $47 million appeal for humanitarian operations in Somalia has not received any funding.

Yesterday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that there are up to 2 million vulnerable people in need of assistance in the country. In the capital Mogadishu, the number of people escaping the city to the poorest areas of the Horn of Africa nation has doubled to 700,000 in the last six months.

ENDS

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