More than 10,000 refugees a week are now arriving in the Dadaab camps in eastern Kenya, where aid partners struggle to meet the needs of some 360,000 people, in facilities meant for 90,000. At present, more than a half million children are severely malnourished and at risk of imminent death from severe acute malnutrition. Across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, an estimated 2.3 million children are already acutely malnourished, face long lasting consequences to their physical and mental development and are at high risk for contracting measles, polio and other deadly diseases UNICEF, together with Governments, UN, NGO and community partners, is supporting a range of interventions and essential services, especially for the displaced and for refugees, including feeding programmes, immunization campaigns, health outreach, and access to safe water and improved sanitation.
UNICEF’s top priority is to prevent death and malnutrition in the affected population, particularly among the most vulnerable groups: infants, children, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers. So far this month, by plane, truck and ship, UNICEF has delivered 1,300 metric tons of critical supplies to some of the hardest hit areas in southern Somalia, including enough therapeutic supplies to treat over 66,000 malnourished children. Over the next eight weeks, UNICEF will expand supplementary feeding to reach 360,000 children and expand as quickly as is possible to reach more children and their families. To save lives, the global humanitarian response must be immediate. UNICEF estimates that it’s total requirements for the emergency response stand now at approximately $300,000,000 through the end of 2011. Despite significant contributions from many governments and private donors through its National Committees, UNICEF still faces a shortfall for children and families of over $200 million. We must help close that gap.