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UK Africans can look forward to better support for Somalia victims

Britain to supply vital aid to more than 800,000 women and children in Somalia
18th August 2011: Africans in the UK can look forward to better support for women and children starving in Somalia.
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The International Development Secretary has 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

As of now, up to 400,000 children are at risk of death through starvation, if urgent action is not taken now, Andrew Mitchell said on a visit to Mogadishu..

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.

Speaking in Mogadishu, Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said:

"I came to Mogadishu today to see first-hand how Britain can best help people that have been hit by this devastating famine. Evidence of malnutrition is not just in the camps and feeding centres but on every street corner.

"The stark fact is that in southern Somalia the situation is deteriorating by the day. We could face deaths on a similar scale to those seen in 1991-2 if we do not act urgently now. This is a race against time.

"That is why we are providing this crucial package of support aimed at children, which comes on top of earlier UK support to the region – and the generous help given by the British public through the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal.

"But we must also see better security and more access for humanitarian workers. I have discussed these issues with the Prime Minister today. By responding quickly, we can save many more lives and avert a human catastrophe.

"Other countries must also maintain and increase their support at this crucial stage. Or we risk seeing a whole generation of people decimated by starvation and disease – and further instability across the region."

During Mitchell’s historic visit to Mogadishu he visited an IDP camp and feeding centre, discussed progress of aid delivery with British-backed UN and NGO partners, met with Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed as well as the Deputy Mayor Iman Nur Icar, the Ministers for Women and Family Affairs, Planning and International Co-operation, and Minister for Interior and State Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Finance and Information.

The UK will also provide £4m to FAO to help protect the remaining livestock by supporting treatment and vaccination of 2.1 million animals weakened by the drought, benefitting 70,000 livestock owners and distribute seeds and fertilisers to 12,500 households.

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