SOMALIA – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has renewed its unwavering commitment to enhance the protection, health, and wellbeing of the most vulnerable children in Somalia by contributing an additional US$20 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

These funds will play an integral role in supporting the organization and its partners to boost local capacity and reinforce the resilience of communities and systems in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises facing the country.

So far, USAID has made donations totaling to US$ 34.7 million in 2021 towards enhancing healthcare facilities and Covid-19 response in the country, specially targeted at children and the most vulnerable.

 “This new funding not only will help curb the effects of the pandemic, but also will strengthen emergency child protection, health, and nutrition services, as well as the provision of clean water and good sanitation,” said U.S. Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Colleen Crenwelge.

The humanitarian crisis in Somalia has escalated due to recurring climate shocks, protracted conflict, the impact of COVID-19 and other deadly diseases, and the worst desert locust infestation in years.

This has compounded vulnerabilities and protection challenges in a context where decades of conflict have displaced close to 3 million people and nearly 5.9 million people require humanitarian assistance.

The risk of a large outbreak of COVID-19 in conflict-stricken areas, where access to the population is challenging and social service provision is limited, persists and could add immeasurably to the suffering of the most vulnerable people in Somalia.

Children are still generally less likely than adults to get sick from the virus, but we must act now so that with the emergent strains they do not become the hidden victims, bearing the brunt of the long-term impacts of this crisis,” said UNICEF Somalia Representative Mohamed Ayoya

A research by Amnesty finds that access to health facilities for Covid-19 patients has been severely limited with just one hospital in the capital Mogadishu managing all Covid-19-related cases across the south-central region during the first wave of infections.

Somalia, whose recent history is marked by armed conflict and political instability, as well as being one of the most heavily indebted countries in the world trails others on many health indicators, including access to reproductive, maternal and child healthcare.

Child mortality is currently the highest in the world. In 2017, it had a ratio of one surgeon per 1,000,000 people. Only an estimated 15 percent of people have access to medical care in rural areas.

Officially, there have been 15,294 confirmed Covid-19 cases, and 798 confirmed deaths, but the actual figures are likely to be much higher given the limited testing capacity, and weaknesses in the reporting and registration of deaths.

Currently, the country is faced with a shortage of vaccines, giving it little fighting chance against the continued spread of Covid-19. By early August, only 0.6 percent of the population was fully vaccinated.

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