With €3 million euro funding, the European Union continues its vital support...

With €3 million euro funding, the European Union continues its vital support to women and children affected by prolonged drought in Somalia

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MOGADISHU(SONNA)-The European Union, through the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department, has provided €3 million euro toward UNICEF’s humanitarian response for children and women caught in Somalia’s prolonged drought.

After several failed rainy seasons and a massive loss of crops, livestock and livelihoods, on 2 February 2017, a pre-famine alert was issued for Somalia by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator. With early, scaled-up response led by the authorities and supported by the international community, famine was successfully averted. However, some 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 enables UNICEF to provide lifesaving treatment for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition; procure emergency water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) supplies to help communities prevent disease outbreaks; assist children and women affected by gender-based violence and unaccompanied and separated children; and ensure children displaced by drought have safe and protected learning spaces to continue their education.

As one of the major donors for UNICEF Somalia, the EU has made a significant contribution to the survival and wellbeing of Somali women and children over the years. In 2017, EU humanitarian funding enabled UNICEF to reach some 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.

“The EU and its humanitarian partners contributed to preventing famine in 2017; thousands of Somali children were spared a senseless death,” said Christos Stylianides, the European Union’s Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management. “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.”

“We would like to express our deep appreciation to the European Union and the people of its Member States. Their generous contribution is allowing UNICEF to support thousands of children and their families caught in the midst of a prolonged drought,” said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “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. 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.”