UNICEF seeks $250mn to help children facing drought in Horn of Africa
Nairobi, April 23 (IANS) The United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF has said it has revised its emergency appeal from $119 million to nearly $250 million to help millions of children facing severe drought in the Horn of Africa.
UNICEF on Friday warned that the number of children facing severe drought conditions across the Horn of Africa has increased by more than 40 per cent in the space of two months, Xinhua news agency reported.
"If we don't act now we will see an avalanche of child deaths in a matter of weeks. Famine is just around the corner," Mohamed M. Fall, the UNICEF Regional Director for eastern and southern Africa, said in a statement issued in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
The UN children's fund said between February and April, the number of children facing the impact of drought, including acute hunger, malnutrition and thirst increased from 7.25 million to at least 10 million.
According to the UNICEF, within the past two months across the Horn of Africa, the number of households without reliable access to clean and safe water has almost doubled -- from 5.6 to 10.5 million while the number of people classified as food insecure has risen from 9 to 16 million.
It said the number of children out of school has remained disturbingly high at 15 million with an additional 1.1 million children being at risk of dropping out and thousands of schools already lacking access to water.
UNICEF said the climate-induced emergency across the Horn of Africa is the worst drought the region has seen in 40 years.
"Three consecutive dry seasons have driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, killed vast swathes of livestock and crops, fuelled malnutrition and increased the risk of disease," it added.
UNICEF said more than 81,000 children in Somalia are at risk of famine by the end of June if the fourth consecutive rainy season fails, food prices continue to rise sharply, and humanitarian assistance is not stepped up.
It said more than 1.7 million children across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia require urgent treatment for severe acute malnutrition and warned that if rains fail in the coming weeks, this figure will rise to 2 million.
"We need to act now to save children's lives -- but also to protect childhoods. Children are losing their homes, their education and their right to grow up safe from harm. They deserve the world's attention now," Fall said.