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Somalia Spirals towards Famine as Humanitarian Crisis Looms


Press Release. Thursday 23 March 2017, Wellington.

The international community is looking to repeat the same failures in East Africa that led to the deaths of over a quarter-of-a-million Somalis in 2011, Save the Children has warned. The international charity’s health and nutrition clinics are reporting ‘all the early warning signs’ of an avoidable catastrophe, with deaths from cholera and acute watery diarrhea rising sharply.

These diseases are death sentences for children whose bodies have been weakened by hunger. In Somalia alone, more than 8,400 cases of disease have already been confirmed in 2017, over 200 of which have been fatal. Andrew Johnston, Save the Children New Zealand’s International Programmes Director, warns that the scale of suffering is higher than at the same stage of the 2011 crisis.

The drought is set to be one of the worst in living memory. At least 14.5 million people across East Africa are facing severe shortages of food and water because of the impact of the drought on crops, animals and water sources. Drought and resulting food shortages have left 6.2 million people in need in Somalia which accounts for over 50 percent of the entire population. A further 5.6 million in Ethiopia and 2.7 million in Kenya are also in need of emergency assistance.

Millions of families are without food, running out of water and are unable to generate income which means children are being put at serious risk. At least 185,000 children in Somalia, an estimated 303,000 in Ethiopia and approximately 83,848 in Kenya are now expected to need treatment for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) before the end of 2017.

“Saving these lives and rebuilding livelihoods will require concerted action by the international community – and that action needs to start now,” said Hassan Noor Saadi Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia.

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