Over 7 million people have been affected by the severe drought as of July, and an estimated 1 million people have been displaced from their homes due to drought.
On Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has urgently appealed for US$9.8 million to address the growing child protection needs in Somalia.
An estimated 2.3 million girls and boys are at imminent risk of violence, exploitation, abuse, neglect, and death from severe acute malnutrition as a result of a food and nutrition crisis across Somalia.
"There is an urgent need to ensure children's specific needs are taken into account with both stand-alone actions and enhanced mainstreaming and integration efforts," the UNHCR said in its latest update on child protection needs amid severe drought.
The UN agency has prioritized the protection of 332,200 girls and boys across 37 districts through stand-alone actions and enhanced mainstreaming and integration efforts to respond to the drought and prevent famine-related child protection risks.
Over 7 million people have been affected by the severe drought as of July, and an estimated 1 million people have been displaced from their homes due to drought, of whom 66 percent are children.
The UN has forecast a historic fifth poor rainy season, which will keep needs high well into 2023, and worsen food insecurity as well as water scarcity. More than 90 percent of Somalia is already experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions.
"Prior to the drought, an estimated 30 percent of Somalis needed humanitarian assistance and protection," the UNHCR said, adding that more areas are at risk of famine, particularly in the south of the country in regions where insecurity and conflict make humanitarian access more challenging.
It said the drought is rapidly evolving into a protection crisis for the vulnerable, threatening the basic survival of families and pushing them to relocate in search of food. Evidence shows drought is increasing children's vulnerability to protection risks, particularly girls and children with disabilities.