"We must act now to save children's lives, preserve their dignity and protect their future," urged Lieke van de Wiel, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.
The Deputy Regional Director appealed to the international community to act, as severe drought conditions in the Horn of Africa have plunged some 20.2 million children under the threat of hunger, thirst and serious diseases, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
The UN agency said the number of children affected by severe drought in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia was about 10 million in July, which compared to the 20.2 recorded to date is a worrying more than two-fold increase.
Regarding the levels of severe acute malnutrition in the region, UNICEF sounded the alarm for the nearly two million children suffering from it and in need of urgent treatment, as it is the most lethal form of hunger.
Noting that certain efforts have prevented "some of the worst consequences that were feared," van de Wiel said that "children in the Horn of Africa continue to face the most severe drought in more than two generations."
Over 20mio children across #Ethiopia, #Kenya and #Somalia are now facing the threat of severe hunger. We need a global effort to mobilize resources before irreversible damage occurs to #children in the #HornOfAfrica.— UNICEF Africa (@UNICEFAfrica) December 23, 2022
We need to ACT NOW #ForEveryChild
According to UNICEF, nearly 24 million people in the region are currently suffering from severe water shortages, and more than 2 million are internally displaced due to drought.
This situation has also forced nearly 2.7 million people to drop out of school, while another 4 million are at risk of doing so, said the agency, which points out that sexual violence, exploitation and abuse are other major concerns caused by the current insecurity crisis in the region.
In the face of such a reality, the official called for continued efforts "to save lives and increase the resilience of the staggering number of children and families who are being pushed to the edge."
In addition, van de Wiel said that when pushed to the limit, families face increased stress, while children are pushed to the risk of "child labor, child marriage and female genital mutilation."
UNICEF seeks 759 million dollars in the context of its 2023 emergency appeal to address the situation in the Horn of Africa with long-term investments for families and children, recovery and adaptation to climate change.