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Thursday, August 11, 2022

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    Commentary: Children are starving to death in Somalia, but we can help

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    Imagine you work at a health clinic in the African nation of Somalia. All day long parents walk into your clinic with babies dying from starvation. You are running out of beds to assign each child for treatment. The lead doctor asks you to set up tents outside the clinic to cope with the overflow of patients.

    You and the entire staff work into the night, exhausted, trying to save these infants’ lives. But many children are dying from the malnutrition.

    That is tragically what is happening in Somalia right now. Repeated drought has led to extreme food shortages and hunger for Somalis.

    Farmers, who were already living in poverty, cannot grow food with the lack of rains. With season after season of drought they have used up whatever meager resources they had to sustain their families. Now Somalis have nothing, but the hope that someone from the outside world will care and send help. The charity Save the Children is running health clinics in Somalia, but they are overwhelmed with demand. And they are short on funding to provide life-saving aid.

    The Save the Children clinic in Baidoa, southwest Somalia, has seen 471 children suffering severe malnutrition in June alone. This is a record, one they would rather not have broken. This is only one clinic too. But it shows you the extent of suffering in Somalia. With the severe food shortages, the smallest children become vulnerable to deadly malnutrition.They are literally starving to death. The UN World Food Program (WFP) says over 7 million Somalis are in danger of famine.

    But making the crisis worse is the lack of funding. The world has largely ignored the plight of the starving Somalis.

    The UN relief budget for Somalia is only 30 percent funded. The WFP reports “Without immediate additional confirmed contributions, 3.1 million people targeted under emergency relief activities will not receive transfers in the coming months. Nutrition interventions are also critically underfunded, forcing WFP to suspend malnutrition prevention programs and scale down coverage for treatment of Moderate Acute Malnutrition.”

    If the world took action, many Somali lives could be saved. But every day that passes, more are being lost. You can help though by donating to charities like Save the Children, WFP, UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services, CARE and others fighting hunger in Somalia. And the drought is also causing extreme hunger in Ethiopia and Kenya. The Horn of Africa is in a major hunger crisis.

    Save the Children’s Country Director for Somalia, Mohamud Mohamed Hassan pleads, “For millions of children in Somalia and the Horn of Africa, time is running out. We’ve already seen the deadly consequences this drought is having on children. We cannot wait any longer to act. In some of the worst affected areas in Somalia, our health clinics are seeing four times as many children suffering from severe malnutrition compared to just six months ago and death rates are soaring.”

    You can also write to your elected officials urging them to increase funding for global food aid programs like Food for Peace. Given the severity of the crisis in Somalia and Horn of Africa, global food aid needs to be increased. There are many other nations suffering extreme hunger too as the war in Ukraine has driven up food prices everywhere.

    There is still enough food in the world for everyone. Children should not be starving to death in Somalia or anywhere. We just need to care and take action.Lambers is an author who partnered with the UN World Food Program on the book Ending World Hunger.

     

    Source: William Lambers

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