A hunger timebomb – and how Australia can prevent millions of child deaths

August 1, 2022 – Families are walking for days on end searching for food as a supercharged hunger crisis leaves 1.5 million children at risk of dying of starvation in just one country, World Vision warns.

Time is running out to prevent a nightmare unfolding in Somalia, where hunger and drought are destroying livelihoods and forcing more than 800,000 people to flee their homes.

Heartbreaking images of tiny, malnourished children are emerging amid Somalia’s worst drought in 40 years, which has left more than 200,000 people on the brink of famine-like conditions.

World Vision says more than seven million people are facing severe food insecurity, with forecasts the country will battle through a record fifth straight season without rain.

An estimated 1.5 million Somali children, under the age of five, are already experiencing severe malnutrition, says World Vision CEO Daniel Wordsworth.

“Climate change, COVID19 and the war in Ukraine have collided to create a catastrophe of immeasurable proportions. Make no mistake – this is a children’s crisis, and more than a million could die if we don’t act soon. I wish I didn’t have to be saying that, but it is the devastating reality. They need food and they need food now,” Daniel says.

“Children and their families are walking for days in the hope of reaching areas where they can access food to feed their hungry children. The mothers that our people are helping at World Vision nutrition clinics have at least one child who is malnourished.

“Sadly, some children have died before they could reach help. Sadder still is that these child deaths are preventable – and we need Australians to show the spirit of generosity we are renowned for and step in now to help.”

Daniel says Australian households can relate to the reality of rising food prices – but in Somali, the toll is so much higher.

“Drought has also decimated crops and livestock, weakening people’s purchasing power,” he says.

“At the same time, children who have fled with their families due to conflict and drought are dropping out of school to migrate, or working to earn their next meal.”

One teen, Suldana, 15, receives $1 a day for household work: “I wash dishes and do other light chores… I do this every day, all day because I have to bring food to my family. Sometimes it’s hard to get customers. Some of the customers are bad people. They mistreat you, especially when you are a girl,” she says.

A hunger crisis across the Horn of Africa has been spiralling out of control for months, with the war in Ukraine proving another driving factor by dramatically pushing up the costs of commodities, fuel, and fertiliser.

Despite the urgent needs, Somalia’s humanitarian appeal remains significantly under-funded; only 29 per cent of the funds required to meet Somalia’s humanitarian needs have been provided.

“We know from experience that it’s vulnerable children who suffer the most in crisis situations such as these,” Daniel says.

“In the 2011 Somalia famine, half of the 250,000 people who died were children under five. We are on the ground responding but we can’t do this alone. The Australian Government can help immediately with a $150 million famine package for countries caught up in the global hunger crisis such as Somalia.”

To donate to World Vision’s child hunger appeal go to https://www.worldvision.com.au/child-hunger-appeal.

For further information or to organise an interview, please contact:
World Vision Australia
Head of Communications and Media
Andrew Hewett
m: +61 437 981 669
e: Andrew.Hewett@worldvision.com.au

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