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WESTPORT, Conn. (July 25, 2011) — As G20 leaders meet in Rome for an emergency summit to address the East Africa food crisis, Save the Children is warning that the number of malnourished children in 14 of its feeding centers in camps in Puntland, northern Somalia has doubled from 3,500 to 6,000 in just two weeks.
The number of acutely malnourished children — and those who will die without emergency assistance — has also doubled, rising from 300 children to 600 in the last two weeks at the charity's clinics in Puntland.
Save the Children and other aid agencies have launched a massive emergency response to help ten million people affected by what the UN has declared East Africa's worst drought in 60 years. But the charity is warning that if world leaders at today's emergency meeting fail to plug a one billion dollar funding shortfall for the East Africa aid effort, over a million children could die in Somalia alone.
The emergency summit, called at the request of the French Presidency, is designed to mobilize international support for the life-saving response across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. However despite organizing the meeting the French government has donated just $2.6 million to the aid effort, lagging far behind the UK Government's recent $85 million donation. Italy — the host of today's summit and Europe's fourth largest economy — has contributed a mere $900,000.
Sonia Zambakides, Save the Children’s Emergency Program Manager for Somalia says: “Children across East Africa are dying every day, and the world cannot stand by and watch. We know that with enough funds and political will we can turn that crisis around. Today's meeting cannot simply be about talking — we need concerted action. World leaders must urgently step up and pledge their cash so we can save more children's lives.”
In the past two weeks, Save the Children's Puntland based feeding centers have been overwhelmed as families flee the effects of the drought in South Central Somalia region in search of food and water.
Sonia Zambakides continued: “Outside the camps in Puntland there is no water, no food and animals have already died. We need to scale up and send teams out to get life-saving help to children in remote, rural areas but we need more funding to do so. Without it we can only provide help in the camps.”
Despite a very generous response from the public — donating $57 million to the charities appeal — the aid effort in East Africa is massively underfunded. Just 9% of emergency health work is funded in Kenya whilst nutrition has received just 12% of the money it needs to save lives. In Somalia just 37% of nutrition work has been funded.
Throughout the disaster Save the Children has been delivering life-saving support across Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia and has scaled up its program to provide food, water, medicine and child protection. It’s appealing for $100 million for its work across the region.
Members of the public who want to help can donate to East Africa Food Crisis relief through the Child Hunger Crisis Fund to support Save the Children's response to ongoing and urgent needs.
Donate $10 by texting "SURVIVE" to 20222 (U.S. Only, standard messaging rates apply).
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.