MOGADISHU, May 23 (Xinhua) -- International charity Save the Children on Thursday called on the international community to scale up funding to provide lifesaving services to children in Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland.
The charity said in a new assessment report that just one in four children in Puntland has access to sufficient food, meaning three in four children are far more likely to succumb to the impact of yet another drought, which is expected to devastate the region in the coming months.
"It is imperative that the international community step up to this challenge, and work with the government of Somalia to scale up our humanitarian interventions to ensure children and families have enough access to food through this critical time," said Timothy Bishop, Save the Children's country director in Somalia.
According to a needs-assessment conducted in March, 73 percent of the children in the surveyed households in Puntland are consuming two or fewer meals a day, with families reporting increased food prices and drought-related livestock deaths that have reduced their access to food.
The report notes nearly half of all respondents said the amount of food they eat has reduced over the past three months.
"As a result, families are borrowing from family and friends, and reducing the number of meals eaten in a day as a way to survive the acute food shortages they are experiencing," says the report.
Bishop warned that without an immediate scale-up of funding to enable lifesaving services for drought-affected communities, the outcomes will be dire.
He said the Somali population, which has yet to recover from the 2017 drought, is now facing yet another major humanitarian crisis that cannot be ignored.
"We have the figures; we have the rain charts, and we know that without immediate action, children will suffer in the coming weeks and months," Bishop said.
On Monday, the United Nations launched a Drought Response Plan, seeking 710 million U.S. dollars to provide critical lifesaving assistance to 4.5 million drought-affected Somalis in the most severely affected areas.
According to the UN, at least 2.2 million people in Somalia, including an estimated 930,000 children, are facing food shortages through the rest of the year due to the delayed and insufficient seasonal rainfall.