Children endure devastating impact in drought-affected parts of Ethiopia: UNICEF

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ADDIS ABABA, July 20 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned that the impact of the ongoing drought that affected lowland regions of Ethiopia is "devastating" on children.

Four consecutive failed rainy seasons have brought on severe drought in Ethiopia's lowland regions of Afar, Oromia, the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' (SNNP) and Somali regions, according to the United Nations.

According to UNICEF, in the drought-affected areas of Ethiopia, water wells have dried up and millions of livestock have died, resulting in mass displacement.

"The impact of the drought on children is devastating. In the Somali region alone, over 900,000 people have been displaced. Drought not only means lack of water. It means that children are going hungry and thirsty every day," a UNICEF statement issued Tuesday quoted Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director for Emergency Operations, as saying.

"They are forced to walk miles in search of food and water and often they have to drink from contaminated water sources. This leads to malnutrition and other killer preventable diseases like diarrhea," Fontaine said.

Figures from UNICEF shows that malnutrition rates are increasing at an alarming rate due to the drought.

Across the four drought-affected regions of Ethiopia, an estimated 600,000 children will require treatment for severe acute malnutrition by the end of the year, UNICEF said.

In the Somali region, there has been a 43 percent increase in severely acute malnutrition admissions for under 5-year-old children in May 2022 compared to May 2021, it said.

"This climate-induced crisis is a malnutrition crisis for children and not just in Ethiopia but across Africa," said Fontaine.

According to UNICEF, the ripple effect of the Ukraine crisis is also set to tip more families in Africa over the edge and will exacerbate food insecurity with increasing fuel prices and reduced availability of wheat imports.

"This means prices of cooking oil, bread and wheat flour are reaching new records in local markets and even families not living in humanitarian crises cannot meet their daily food needs," said Fontaine.

UNICEF's drought response appeal for impacted areas in Ethiopia is 65 million U.S. dollars in addition to the overall humanitarian appeal of 351 million U.S. dollars. It said this specific funding will target more than 2 million vulnerable people in Afar, Oromia, SNNPR and Somali regions. Enditem

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