185 thousand children in the eastern area affected by the deadliest form of malnutrition

in’Eastern and southeastern Ethiopia the rates on malnutrition has increased in recent months due to Droughtof conflict and of displacements and an estimated 185,000 children now suffer from the most deadly form of malnutrition. This is the alarm launched by Save the Children, the organization that has fought for over 100 years to save girls and boys in danger and guarantee them a future on the occasion of African Children’s World Day.

A prolonged drought, combined with health interruptions due to instability, the Covid-19 pandemic and lack of funds, has exposed more than one million people to the need for emergency nutrition support in the south-western regions. Somali, Oromia and SNNP.

In the next few months, the situation of extreme malnutrition is expected to worsen due to the rise in food prices, rising due to the devaluation of the Ethiopian currency and the war in Ukraine, while shepherding families’ livestock continue to lose value … due to of one of the worst droughts in the history of the Horn of Africa that decimated their herds.

In the Somali region of eastern Ethiopia, which is one of the hardest hit by the drought, the number of malnutrition has increased by 64% in the last 12 months, with an increase of 43% between January and April 2022 alone. In the same three months, the total number of cases of severe acute malnutrition – the deadliest form of malnutrition in children – has reached almost 50,000.

Severe acute malnutrition is a survival-threatening condition that significantly weakens children’s immune systems with the risk that additional health complications or infections are fatal and require urgent treatment.

In the Dawa area of ​​Somali, Save the Children workers have found that much of the nomadic pastoral community is now on the brink of starvation. The number of people who turn to the Organization’s nutrition centers for the treatment of malnutrition increased by more than 320% from September 2021 to January 2022. Many children eat only one meal a day.

Also in the Somali region, in Shabelle, another area hard hit by drought and famine, agricultural communities have noticed unusual animal behaviors, including cases of attacks on children and livestock from hungry monkeys.

I do not know how to feed my children. It has not rained and the grass has withered. My sheep and goats died along with hundreds, thousands of animals from our village. We loaded the little we had left in a donkey cart and set off at midnight“, Narrator Ahmed, 40, a father of seven living in Somali, Ethiopia, after losing his cattle due to drought and leaving his village with his children in search of food and water elsewhere.

In the southern and eastern parts of the country, prolonged droughts continue to spread and destroy the lives and livelihoods of an estimated 8.1 million people. Across the country, it is estimated that nearly 30 million people, a quarter of the population, are in need of humanitarian assistance, of which 12 million are children.

Ethiopia and the other countries in the Horn of Africa, Somalia and Kenya, have been hit by a severe drought caused by the climate crisis. More than 23 million people are suffering from extreme hunger in the three countries, and 5.8 million children are severely malnourished.

In Ethiopia, children, especially young people, are facing a heartbreaking crisis. A prolonged, extensive and disabling drought weakens their resilience, already worn down by a grueling conflict and two years of the COVID-19 pandemic“, he claims Xavier Joubert, Director of Save the Children in Ethiopia. “Unfortunately, the crisis in this country in 2022 has grown in complexity and breadth. In the south and east, prolonged drought destroys life and livelihoods. In the north, millions of displaced families barely have access to food, health care and livelihoods. In the southwest, however, a hidden conflict displaces hundreds of thousands of people. Families fleeing drought or conflict left very few things with them, some with their children and the few clothes they have. Returning families find their homes, hospitals, and schools damaged or destroyed, and their livelihoods lost.“.

Save the Children urges new donors to meet the needs of children and their families throughout Ethiopia. The organization was one of the first to intervene in the conflict area in the northern part of the country and has response programs throughout the country. In the Somali and Oromia regions, Save the Children workers are helping thousands of families affected by the drought, but there is an urgent need for more funds to expand operations to meet exponentially growing humanitarian needs.

Save the Children has been working in Ethiopia for over 60 years and was among the first to respond to the conflict in the Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions by continuing to provide humanitarian assistance during the protracted crises in the Oromia and Somali regions. The organization is strongly committed to the protection of health and nutrition, hygiene and access to water, protection services, educational support and financial support for the most vulnerable children and their families.

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