Drought in Ethiopia: UNICEF calls for immediate response to save the lives of millions of children

Addis Ababa, April 28, 2022 – At the end of a four-day visit to Ethiopia, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell urged the international community to immediately urgently provide support to avert a humanitarian catastrophe caused by drought in Ethiopia and the rest of the Horn of Africa.

Children are forced to drink contaminated water

The impact of drought in Ethiopia is devastating »announced Kathryn Russell. In the Somali region, one of the most drought-affected regions of the country, I met children and families who had lost virtually everything. Their livestock died and therefore they have no source of livelihood. They cannot feed their children and move around in search of food and water. We need to reach these families now before it’s too late “.

Due to the failure of three successive rainy seasons, four countries in the Horn of Africa are experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades. In total, in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, 10 million children need urgent life-saving assistance.

Drought is exacerbating the malnutrition of children and their families at an alarming rate. In total, 1.7 million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition in the sub-district. In Ethiopia, admission rates for treatment of severe acute malnutrition in children under five years of age in drought-affected areas were 15% higher in February 2022 compared to February 2021.

Not only are we facing a malnutrition crisis, but the lack of clean water is aggravating the situation of children and women. »announced Kathryn Russell. Children are forced to drink contaminated water, which puts them at risk of contracting cholera and other deadly diseases. In the Somali region, we have received reports of more 1 000 The case of measles, with 16 Confirmed deaths “.

Drought could increase child marriage by 51%

But it is not only malnutrition and disease that threaten children’s lives. More than 600,000 children in drought-affected areas have dropped out of school due to the drought. Schools are closed due to lack of water, and many children drop out of school because they have to walk long distances to find food and water or to take care of other children while their caretakers try to find water for their families and livestock.

Traveling long distances exposes children to many risks, including child marriage »said the UNICEF Executive Director. Child marriage often increases in times of drought, as families marry off their daughters in the hope that they will be better fed and protected, as well as to earn dowries. In some drought-stricken regions of Ethiopia, We saw an increase of 51 % child marriage ».

Behind every statistic is a child

In response, UNICEF Ethiopia is targeting nearly 3.4 million people, including 1.4 million children, as part of our immediate response. UNICEF is rehabilitating and installing boreholes, providing emergency water trucking, treating severely malnourished children, and providing education and child protection support. UNICEF also invests in climate-resilient, solar-powered water supply systems for long-term sustainable solutions.

While we appreciate the generous support of our donors, we must do more to save the lives of millions of children “,” announce Kathryn Russell. We must remember that Behind every statistic, there is a child with the same hopes and dreams as children around the world and the same right to reach their full potential “.

UNICEF Executive Director He also met with government officials, including Ethiopian President Sahel Warak Zweidi and Deputy Prime Minister And Foreign Minister Demeki Mekonnen Hasan. During these two meetings, Kathryn Russell She discussed the long-term partnership between UNICEF and the Government, as well as ways to strengthen the joint response to drought and to invest in building resilience.

Notes to editors:

Multimedia documents available: here
UNICEF’s total emergency response in the Horn of Africa is US$250 million.
UNICEF’s drought appeal in Ethiopia amounts to US$65 million.

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