Some 20.2 million children are at risk of severe hunger, thirst and disease (up from 10 million in July) as climate change, conflict, global inflation and grain shortages devastate the region.
“While collective and accelerated efforts have mitigated some of the worst feared impacts, children in the Horn of Africa are still facing the worst drought in more than two generations.” declared UNICEF Lieke van de Wiel, Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.
Millions of hungry
Nearly two million children in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are estimated to be in urgent need of care for severe acute malnutrition, the deadliest form of hunger.
Meanwhile, water shortages have more than doubled, with some 24 million people now facing acute water shortages.
At the same time, the drought has displaced more than two million people internally and forced some 2.7 million children to drop out of school, with another four million at risk of dropping out.
“Humanitarian assistance must continue to save lives and build resilience for the staggering number of children and families who are on the brink of survival, dying of hunger and disease and forced to relocate in search of food, water and pasture for their livestock,” said Ms. van de Wiel. .
Balancing on the edge
As increased stress pushes families to the brink, young people face child labour, child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
And widespread food shortages and displacement fuel sexual violence, exploitation, abuse and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV).
“We need a global effort to urgently mobilize resources to reduce further devastating and irreversible damage to children in the Horn of Africa,” continued a senior UNICEF official.
On hand to lend a hand
With the generous support of donors and partners, UNICEF continues to provide life-saving services to children and families across the Horn of Africa, preparing for further shocks by building resilience and strengthening essential services.
This year, the UN agency and its partners provided essential health services to almost two million children and women; almost two million people aged six months to 15 years have been vaccinated against measles; and provided safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene to more than 2.7 million people.
UNICEF’s $759 million 2023 Flash Appeal to support children and their families will require timely and flexible funding, especially for education, water and sanitation, and child protection, all of which have been seriously underfunded this year.
An additional $690 million is needed to support long-term investment in children and their families’ recovery and adaptation to climate change.
“As governments and people around the world prepare to celebrate the New Year, we call on the international community to commit to responding now to what could hit the Horn of Africa next year and beyond,” Ms van de Wiel urged. .
“We must act now to save children’s lives, preserve their dignity and protect their future.”