UNICEF and partners continue delivering nutritional services for Somali children

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

While security conditions continue to deteriorate particularly in the Southern parts of Somalia, UNICEF and partners completed the second round of distributing UNIMIX- food supplement rich with vitamins and minerals- to 54,000 under-five children in the IDP camps of Afgoye Corridor and Mogadishu. The blanket feeding scheme is part of UNICEF’s nutrition programme which addresses the alarming high malnutrition rates in the country.

UNICEF has scaled up its nutrition interventions to reach more children with quality services as the nutrition situation continues to deteriorate in the country. According to a new survey conducted by the FSAU (Food Security Analysis Unit in Somalia), it is estimated that nearly 180,000 children in Somalia are acutely malnourished, among which 25,000 are severely malnourished. This is an 11 per cent increase in the last 6 months with about 1 in 6 children being acutely malnourished and 1 in 40 being severely malnourished.

“So far we have been lucky to be strongly backed by our donors, however with the recent increase in malnutrition rates and the need for accelerated humanitarian assistance, more funds are required, for us to continue and expand our programmes effectively”, said Christian Balslev-Olesen, UNICEF Representative to Somalia.

The IDP concentration areas are one of the most vulnerable to factors causing malnutrition. The prolonged conflict and civil insecurity in Modagishu and its surrounding areas have led to the influx of displaced people into temporary settlements across the country. Afgoye hosts one of the biggest IDP settlements with a displaced population exceeding 300,000 people. Analyses indicate that the nutrition situation in Afgoye is critical, further complicated by the limited access due to the security situation.

This latest round of the UNIMIX distribution had expanded its coverage to include 3 IDP camps located inside Mogadishu- in addition to the original 221 IDP camps in Afgoye Corridor- targeting 54,000 children under five years of age in total. Jumbo Peace and Development Organization- a local NGO partnering with UNICEF- distributed 10 kg of UNIMIX for each child, with the support of local community elders and IDP camp leaders. In Jowhar, where 4 camps are located with an estimated 4,000 IDPs, UNICEF supports the daily distribution of cooked supplementary food targeting 600 under-five children.

Northern parts of Somalia are also hit hard by the deteriorating nutrition conditions, worsened by the skyrocketing food prices and the devaluation of the Somali Shilling. The urban poor and displaced population are the most vulnerable in the area, with thousands of families from the conflict affected South forced to seek temporary refuge in the Northern parts of the country. In Bossaso IDP camps, where about 28,000 people are located, global acute malnutrition rates have been recorded at 23.3 per cent. In Glakayo and Garowe IDP camps as well, very critical global acute malnutrition rates have been recorded.

Starting August and throughout the remainder of the year, UNICEF and partners will provide rations of UNIMIX (10 kg a month per child) to approximately 7,500 under-five children in Bossaso IDP camps, as well as to children in Garowe and Galkayo IDP camps, combined with a therapeutic feeding programme for severely malnourished children. The next round of UNIMIX distribution in Afgoye and Mogadishu camps is also scheduled in August.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.