Somalia

UNICEF Humanitarian Action: Somalia Donor Update 02 May 2007

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UNICEF needs US$ 13.5 million to address immediate needs of children in the areas of nutrition, health, education and protection
  • Generous donor funding has enabled rapid response to flooding and diarrhoea outbreaks (UNICEF CAP appeal 40% funded)
  • Urgent funding gaps for response to 365,000 people displaced by conflict in Mogadishu.
  • Insecurity prevents access to vulnerable children in many parts of Central and Southern Somalia

Map: Somalia: Total Number of IDPs from Mogadishu per District - As reported by the Protection Cluster Population Movement Tracking Project (1 Feb - 27 Apr 2007)

1. ISSUES FOR CHILDREN

On the heels of the prolonged drought in 2005-2006, the children and women of Somalia are bearing the brunt of a debilitating combination of conflict, flooding and disease outbreak during 2007. The worst-affected areas are the regions of the Central and Southern Zone (CSZ) which are home to 70% of Somalia's population. Families recovering from the effects of the drought were plunged into widespread flooding in late 2006-early 2007 and are now facing outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea, alongside malnutrition rates that were already at critical levels. Although the food and livelihood situation had improved by February 2007, the recent escalation of fighting in and around Mogadishu has resulted in thousands of civilians killed or wounded and large-scale displacement; up to 365,000 people have fled the area since the beginning of February as Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian troops battle insurgent elements in the city. The majority of the displaced are women, children under 14 and the elderly, while men appear to be remaining in Mogadishu to protect family assets. Further, the Gu rains have now started, with potential for more flooding.

Even before the latest round of calamities, Somalia presented amongst the worst infant, child and maternal mortality rates in the world. The 2006 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) preliminary results indicate that about one out of every six children in Central and Southern Somalia will die before their fifth birthday, with slightly better rates for the two northern zones. About 35% of children under the age of five across all three zones are moderately or severely underweight, an indicator of both chronic and acute malnutrition. The maternal mortality ratio in Somalia is also amongst the highest in the world at an estimated 1,044 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Only an estimated 25% of the population has access to basic primary health care and preventable or easily treated diseases remain the main killers of Somali children and women, with malaria, respiratory infections and diarrhoeal diseases responsible for at least half of under-five mortality. The major underlying causes of water-related diseases are the lack of access to safe water and poor food and domestic hygiene. Preliminary results of the MICS 2006 show that only 29% of Somalia's population has access to improved drinking water sources and 37% to sanitation facilities, with large urban/rural disparities.

Violence against children, child labour, child soldier recruitment, and harmful traditional practices such as early marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/C) all feature in Somalia's landscape of child protection violations. Compounding these issues is the diminished community capacity to protect the rights of women and children as a result of prolonged civil unrest. While HIV prevalence remains low in Somalia (<1% among antenatal care attendees in 2003), evidence suggests transmission is on the increase and misconceptions about HIV are common, hindering prevention efforts. Only one Somali child out of every three receives basic primary education, with disparities between the three zones and a large gender gap (girls' enrolment recorded at 35%) At the beginning of the current school year, there were 1,867 operational primary schools in Somalia with a total of 393,856 pupils, representing a Gross Enrolment Ratio of 27.9%. However, it is estimated that at least half of the 80,000 school children in the Mogadishu area have been displaced as their families flee daily mortar attacks and increasing human rights violations in the city.

The current conflict is being characterized as the worst in Mogadishu in over 15 years. Hospitals are overflowing with casualties and civilians are frequently caught in the cross-fire, particularly internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in settlements close to military or government buildings. Although children are affected on a daily basis by the trauma of shelling in residential areas and by family deaths, UNICEF child protection monitors also report weekly cases of children becoming direct victims of indiscriminate shooting and mortar attacks. The ages of these children range from seven months to 18 years and many of them have been seriously injured and killed. In addition, the high number of IDPs in the city is straining access to basic services and has contributed to a degradation of public sanitation conditions, one of the main vectors in the control of Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD)/cholera.

Details of the Somalia emergency programme can be obtained from:

Christian Balslev-Olesen
UNICEF Representative
Somalia
Tel: + 254 20 762 3952
Fax: + 254 20 762 3965
Email: cbalslev@unicef.org

Esther Vigneau
UNICEF EMOPS
Geneva
Tel: + 41 22 909 5612
Fax: + 41 22 909 5902
E-mail: evigneau@unicef.org

Gary Stahl
UNICEF PFO
New York
Tel: + 1-212 326 7009
Fax: + 1-212 326 7165
Email : gstahl@unicef.org