Malnutrition is one of the biggest challenges facing the survival of Somali children today. In a country where an estimated 180,000 children are acutely malnourished- 26,000 of whom are severely malnourished and in need of immediate treatment- UNICEF and its partners are providing a package of emergency life-saving interventions for Somalia's children. Notwithstanding this effort, the odds facing UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations in Somalia are high. The number of people needing emergency assistance has spiraled by 77 per cent since January, and now totals 3.2 million people. Insecurity in the port city of Mogadishu, through which 80 per cent of all supplies for the country pass, is vastly complicating relief measures.
To prevent further deterioration of the malnutrition situation in the country, UNICEF is undertaking blanket feeding campaigns for under-five children in Somalia, with focus on the most vulnerable IDP population. In Bossaso, Northeast Somalia ('Puntland') one of the locations where UNIMIX has recently been distributed in 22 IDP camps, 7500 children are benefiting .
While in Central/Southern Somalia the number of severely malnourished children is continuing to increase in many of the urban towns and among the internally displaced populations, in the north, where nutrition rates are normally low and stable compared to the rest of the country, the nutrition situation is also deteriorating.
The level of desperation among communities is rising and they are calling attention to their predicament. Increasingly, the lack of security is hampering access by relief organizations to those affected which in turn is making their living conditions desperate. It is therefore crucial that local communities, international and local relief organizations and local administrations where they exist collaborate to enhance the protection of children and women and their welfare.
UNICEF Representative, Somalia
Increased insecurity hampers access to children in need of protection
UNICEF's child protection activities and those of its partners have been increasingly hampered by lack of access to areas affected by fighting such as the recent one in Belet Weyne. With the deteriorating security situation Central/Southern Somalia, there is great need for communities, international and local organizations to collaborate to enhance the protection of children.
Nonetheless, during the past month, in Central/Southern Somalia, community mobilization initiatives for child protection were undertaken by a UNICEF partner organization, Somali Peaceline. The activities focused on 14 internally displaced persons camps with most of them being in the Mogadishu-Afgoye corridoror and others in Dusamareb, Baidoa, Kismayo and Merka towns.
In Baidoa, two instances were reported of missing children by mothers who were displaced from Mogadishu. Child Protection Advocates who receive UNICEF support are following up on the issue in collaboration with the Somali Red Crescent Society. The fighting has traumatized children and one case of an 11-year-old in Baidoa is being followed with a counseling centre. Incidences of young children working as militia have also been reported.
In Kismayo 87 people mostly militia but among them eight civilians of whom four were children were reported to have died during three days of fighting between Islamic militants and clan militia loyal to Bare Aden Shire, a member of the Somali Parliament. Eventually the militants took over control of the town. A total of 6, 220 families were reported displaced from the town to other villages and districts nearby among them Kamsuma, Gaduuday, Koban, Berhaani, Bu'ale, Jamame and other small villages.