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|Somali refugee children at Save the Children Child-Friendly Space at the Boqolmayo refugee camp in Ethiopia.
WESTPORT, Conn. (July 4, 2011) — Save the Children has made an urgent call to donors to provide life-saving help to thousands of children in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia whose lives are at risk due to severe food shortages. The UN has called this East Africa’s worst drought in 60 years.
“Large numbers of Somali refugees are fleeing conflict and drought in their homeland and walking to the border crossing point at Dollo Ado. From there, they are taken to nearby refugee camps in southern Ethiopia,” reports Duncan Harvey, Save the Children's Deputy Country Director in Ethiopia.
“Eighty percent of the refugees are children and the majority of the remainder are women. Many arrive in Dollo Ado having walked for weeks. They arrive sick and hungry. Many of the children urgently need food. We are still in a position to avert catastrophe if we act now.”
A deadly combination of failed rains and soaring global food prices has left more than nine million people living in remote areas across the region — more than half of them children — without enough food and water and at risk of malnutrition.
More than a quarter of children in the worst-hit parts of Kenya are now dangerously malnourished, and in Somalia malnutrition rates have reached 30 percent in some areas, making the Horn of Africa one of the hungriest places on earth.
Save the Children has already launched a major humanitarian response in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, feeding tens of thousands of underweight children, providing life-saving medical treatment, and getting clean water to remote communities.
But with the situation worsening by the day — and no more rain due till late September — Save the Children urgently needs money to dramatically ramp up its response.
"Thousands of children could starve if we don't get life-saving help to them fast," said Matt Croucher, Save the Children's regional emergency manager for East Africa. "Parents no longer have any way to feed their children; they've lost their animals, their wells have dried up and food is too expensive to afford.
"We can stop this tragedy unfolding, but we only have half the money we need. We urgently need to raise the rest so we can save more children's lives."
Families have resorted to desperate measures to survive. In Somalia, thousands have left their homes in search of food, with malnourished children walking for days on end in searing heat and risking conflict to find help. Meanwhile, in Kenya, Save the Children has received reports of people feeding their animals the thatch from the roof of their huts in a bid to keep them alive, leaving families without adequate shelter.
Many children are eating just a single bowl of porridge a day, missing out on the basic nutrients they need to survive.
How You Can Help Save the Children Save Lives
These are just a few examples of what your donation can help us provide:
- $8 can pay for enough water purification tablets to provide clean, safe water to a family of six for a month
- $24 can pay for mosquito nets to keep ten malnourished children safe from disease
- $128 can help feed a family of six for a month
As well as delivering life-saving help to families across the region, Save the Children is helping communities in the Horn of Africa adapt to more frequent droughts, reducing the number of children at risk in any future food crises.
Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.