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UNICEF Says 180K Kids In Somalia Are Malnourished

UNICEF says 180,000 children in Somalia are malnourished

25 July 2008 - Nearly 180,000 children in Somalia are acutely malnourished, with 25,000 severely malnourished, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) which has scaled up its nutrition operation to reach more than 50,000 children under the age of five.

A new survey carried out by the Food Security Analysis Unit in Somalia has found that there has been an 11 per cent increase in malnutrition in the last six months.

"So far we have been lucky to be strongly backed by our donors. However, with the recent increase in malnutrition rates and the need for accelerated humanitarian assistance, more funds are required for us to continue and expand our programmes effectively," said Christian Balslev-Olesen, UNICEF Representative to Somalia.

UNICEF and its partners have just completed a second round of its blanket feeding programme, which involves the distribution of UNIMIX-food supplement, rich with vitamins and minerals, to 54,000 under-five children in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia's Afgoye Corridor and the capital, Mogadishu.

The IDP concentration areas are among the most at risk of malnutrition, according to UNICEF. The prolonged conflict and civil insecurity in Mogadishu and its surrounding areas have led to an influx of displaced people into temporary settlements across the country.

Afgoye hosts one of the biggest IDP settlements with a displaced population exceeding 300,000 people. Analyses indicate that the nutrition situation in Afgoye is critical, further complicated by the limited access because of the security situation.

Northern parts of Somalia are also hit hard by the deteriorating nutrition conditions, worsened by skyrocketing food prices and the devaluation of the Somali shilling. The urban poor and displaced are the most vulnerable populations, with thousands of families from the conflict-affected south forced to seek temporary refuge in the northern parts of the country.

In Bossaso IDP camps, where about 28,000 people are located, global acute malnutrition rates have been recorded at 23.3 per cent, well above the rate of 15 per cent which is considered to constitute an emergency. Glakayo and Garowe IDP camps have also recorded very critical global acute malnutrition rates.

Starting in August and throughout the remainder of the year, UNICEF and partners will provide rations of 10 kilos of UNIMIX a month per child to approximately 7,500 under-five children in Bossaso IDP camps, as well as to children in Garowe and Galkayo camps, combined with a therapeutic feeding programme for severely malnourished children.

ENDS

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