The EU has donated €3 million to bolster UNICEF’s humanitarian response for children and women caught in Somalia’s prolonged drought.
The funds through the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department is expected to target 12,500 children with lifesaving treatment for severe acute malnutrition, and a quarter of a million people with emergency water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) supplies.
EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said in a joint statement Wednesday Somali families remained fragile owing to the ongoing drought and displacement noting the funds will be instrumental in supporting those most impacted.
“The EU and its humanitarian partners contributed to preventing famine in 2017; thousands of Somali children were spared a senseless death,” said Stylianides. “But it is clear that many Somali families are still very fragile due to relentless succession of droughts and displacement. Through our renewed partnership with UNICEF, the EU remains committed to helping the children and women most impacted by these crises.”
The donation comes amid an ongoing drought in the country which has subjected millions to food crisis and caused massive displaced. Up to a million people were internally displaced last year as a result of the drought and attendant factors. The UN estimates 5.4 million people continue to require humanitarian assistance, including 2.8 million children.
The crisis triggered measles and cholera outbreaks, affecting 20,000 and 78,000 people, respectively, the majority of them children. Over 3 million children, out of a total of 4.9 million, were out of school by the end of the year, and gender-based violence against women and children has been on the rise.
The new grant will enable UNICEF to provide lifesaving treatment for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and provide water, hygiene and sanitation among other emergency measures.
The funds add to EU’s contribution last year which reached 43,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition with lifesaving treatment, and 11,000 patients, most of them children, with treatment for acute watery diarrhoea/cholera.
Leila Pakkala, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa applauded the support from the EU noting the funding would be critical in saving lives of thousands of children and providing water and sanitation support to thousands of families.
“This funding is timely and catalytic. It will specifically help us to provide 12,500 children with lifesaving treatment for severe acute malnutrition, and a quarter of a million people with emergency WASH supplies,” said Pakkala.
“With yet another forecast for a poor rainy season, the situation remains grave. This is the time for all partners to urgently work together to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable children and families in Somalia, so that we save lives now and continue to help build resilience.”