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Somalia: more life-saving feeding programmes launched

24-08-2011 News Release 11/173

Nairobi/Geneva (ICRC) – In southern Somalia, the numbers of malnourished children and mothers have been rising rapidly. The Somali Red Crescent Society, with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has just launched four new outpatient therapeutic feeding programmes in clinics in the conflict- and drought-affected regions of Gedo and Bakool.

"Around 20 per cent of Somalis are suffering from acute malnutrition, which is very worrying," said Dr Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, president of the Somali Red Crescent Society. "It is vital that services be expanded throughout the country in order to save as many children under five and lactating women as possible from malnutrition."

With the opening of the four new programmes, Somali Red Crescent feeding centres now cover the whole country, including all areas most affected by malnutrition. In Afgoye, in the Banadir region, six additional outpatient therapeutic programmes will soon open to enhance services already being provided there. In remote areas, 13 mobile health and nutrition teams are treating patients who cannot reach a clinic. A new feeding programme supplementing the regular therapeutic feeding will benefit some 49,000 malnourished children and 24,000 breast-feeding and pregnant women.

Admissions at Somali Red Crescent therapeutic feeding centres doubled between March and July. Additional staff were recruited to deal with the influx of patients.

The ICRC refurbished the buildings that house the clinics and will continue to provide support in the form of regular deliveries of medical equipment and food for malnourished children, pregnant and breast-feeding women along with training for staff. The ICRC also helped set up the mobile teams that treat patients in remote locations.

Somalia has been in the grip of a severe drought since October 2010. The effects on a population already weakened by two decades of armed conflict have been devastating. The ICRC is providing long-term support for 39 clinics run by the Somali Red Crescent. Most of the clinics offer outpatient therapeutic feeding. Furthermore, the ICRC is helping people produce their own food by providing seed, tools and training. Since June, when the humanitarian situation worsened dramatically, the organization has distributed food rations to 162,000 people throughout southern and central Somalia.

For further information, please contact:
Yves Van Loo, ICRC Somalia, tel: +254 736 084 015
Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 58 or +41 79 217 32 24