|Poor Rains and Conflict May Push Somali Children Back into Emergency|
Lane Hartill 202.640.6608 (O), 202.294.9700 (M)
WESTPORT, Conn. (July 5, 2012) — Somalia is facing a renewed crisis as poor rains and conflict threaten to push hundreds of thousands of children left vulnerable by last year's crisis back into a struggle for food, Save the Children has warned.
Last year's unprecedented relief effort saved the lives of thousands of Somali children. But the crisis forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, devastated their livelihoods and left them vulnerable to unpredictable rains and volatile market prices.
Now a combination of displacement, poor rains and a predicted late and below-average harvest may reverse Somalia's fragile recovery from last year's drought. The confluence of hardships highlights the challenges Somalis face coping with multiple, simultaneous shocks when many haven't recovered from last year's disaster.
Early warning systems predict that below-average rains will result in poor harvests in south-central Somalia, the epicentre of last year's emergency. Hardest hit will be the 1.4 million Somalis already displaced by drought and conflict, who are relying on a good harvest to keep food prices low.
Save the Children is calling for urgent funding to provide on-going emergency assistance and wants a fresh push from the international community to tackle the underlying causes of the crisis in Somalia.
"The incredible response to last year's crisis saved thousands of lives," said Sonia Zambakides, Humanitarian Director for Save the Children's Somalia program. "But that crisis has also left a huge amount of Somali families unable to cope with the effects of drought one year on.
"The underlying causes such as conflict, low rainfall and a lack of family income are still putting many Somali children at great risk."
Last year's crisis wiped out the incomes and savings of tens of thousands of Somalis and left a third of Somali families reliant on food relief. Meanwhile, increasing military activity continues to force families from their homes, further undermining their ability to cope and putting more pressure on overstretched aid programs.
Zambakides continued: "Unless we tackle the long-term factors driving hunger in Somalia, we will see more deadly crises in the years to come. We need a step-change in approach toward Somalia; a shift away from simply responding to hunger emergencies toward a long-term commitment to tackle the issues that give rise to them."
Save the Children has reached more than 3 million people across East Africa with emergency assistance since the East Africa crisis, providing food assistance, water, health care, livelihood support, protection and education to those affected by below average rains.
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.