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Facing death from starvation

HARGEISA, Somaliland: June 29, 2017: Save the Children says more than 20,000 children across nine districts in Somalia risk starving to death unless the international community continues to provide life-saving aid to the drought-stricken region.

Earlier this month, Network Airline Management (NAM) arranged the shipment of 57 tonnes of mainly IV fluid from Liege via Nairobi to a Canadian Red Cross field hospital in Hargeisa.

The cargo flew on the regular Astral Aviation/NAM B747-400F service for transshipment at Nairobi to a chartered Astral B727 freighter. The company also operates the aircraft on a weekly scheduled service to the Somaliland capital.

Save the Children SomaliaNAM Commercial director Andy Walters said: "The flight, for our customer NEO Charter Air and the Charterstore, sent IV fluid to a local hospital which treats over 140 cholera patients daily. The Red Cross is providing vital healthcare to thousands of people and these life-saving supplies are invaluable and will help to reduce the numbers of children dying from cholera in this area."

Save the Children said drought-related diseases like cholera have been persistently high across Somalia and Somaliland, causing thousands of deaths and leaving already weakened children even more vulnerable.

New survey results released by the aid organization in partnership with Concern Worldwide and Action Against Hunger show the number of severe acute malnutrition cases - the most dangerous form of hunger - have skyrocketed in nearly half of the nine districts assessed. In the Somalia district of Mataban, 9.5 percent of children under five are now severely malnourished according to the study.

Hassan Noor Saadi, director for Save the Children in Somalia noted: "The most recent rains have been erratic and have not performed well enough to guarantee crop growth, and families continue to lose what little remains of their livelihoods and livestock, leaving them with few options to provide for their children, indicating a clear risk of famine."

An estimated US$1.5 billion is needed to help save lives of which only US$550 million has been funded to date. "The first half of the year saw significant levels of support from donors, which allowed us to help nearly one million vulnerable children. But these funds will soon run out, leaving millions at risk unless additional funding is made available," Noor Saadi explained.

"We welcome the UK government's recent announcement to provide an additional US$75 million to the response, and the U.S. government's ongoing commitment. We urge other donors to follow suit and make more funds available. Otherwise, we risk repeating the horrors of 2011, when a famine caused over 250,000 people – half of them children – to needlessly lose their lives," he added.

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