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Mitchell: 400,000 children risk death through starvation in Somalia

Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Friday, 26 August 2011

Mitchell: 400,000 children risk death through starvation in Somalia

Up to 400,000 children are at risk of death through starvation if urgent action is not taken now, Andrew Mitchell said today on a visit to Mogadishu. The International Development Secretary announced Britain will supply vital aid, including extra food and medical supplies, to more than 800,000 women and children in Somalia, as figures show that half of those who have died during the famine in Somalia are children. Mr Mitchell – the first British Minister to visit Mogadishu in over 18 years - warned that without an urgent response, the crisis could become as bad as the famine in 1991-2. This saw over 200,000 people lose their lives. Aid workers are now seeing some of the same severe malnutrition rates in certain areas, and over 50% of the population is affected. Lack of health care, inadequate immunisation, poor access to clean water and sanitation are all contributing to a rise in disease outbreaks, including cholera and measles. Urgent action in all these sectors, not just food assistance, is vital to prevent more unnecessary deaths. The UK’s new package of support to the UN organisation for children, UNICEF, will allow them to double the number of children they are reaching in their supplementary feeding programme. The £25m children’s package will provide:
•    up to 192,000 people with two months of supplementary rations
•    supplies to vaccinate at least 800,000 children against measles, plus 300,000 with polio vaccines, vitamin A and deworming
•    support to malaria preparedness, including provision of over 100,000 treated bednets, 50,000 malaria testing kits, and treatment capacity for 4,000 cases of malaria.