UN says Somalis and South Sudanese refugees escaping famine threatened by Diseases and sexual violence.

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By Nangayi Guyson – nangayi.guyson@alleastafrica.com

Kampala, Uganda –The United Nations has said Somalis and South Sudanese refugees escaping famine are being threatened by Diseases and sexual violence. John Ging, from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told journalists in New York.

Mr. John Ging,  who had visited South Sudan in the previous month told journalists that sexual violence against girls and women is particularly grave with much younger children and elderly women being attacked.

He also said that more than 6.2 million people from Somalia and South Sudan are in need of food and water, and at risk for cholera and measles and he expected the situation to worsen as the drought and violence fuelling the crises continues.

“My overall impression of the response in Somalia is that the needs are moving very quickly, escalating, but the response is currently keeping pace with those needs. That does not mean that we should be complacent, but it does mean that we have the right team on the ground doing an outstanding job,” said Mr. Ging, who led a team that also included representatives from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Donors have funded 70 per cent of the $825 million humanitarian appeal for Somalia – which is “unprecedented,” according to Mr. Ging.

The financial support follows the collective failure in 2011 to stop an earlier famine in Somalia, the senior UN official said, and is today seen as a strong message from the international community to work with the Somali Government to prevent a reoccurrence.

In addition to humanitarian aid, families are also receiving more cash-for-work as part of a project led by UNDP and partners. UNDP’s Mourad Wahba said the project is part of an effort to help families “take it into their own hands to decide how aid should be spent.”

The scale-up on the funding side in Somalia is in sharp contrast to the situation in South Sudan, where only about 27 per cent of the $1.6 billion appeal has been met.

“That really leaves our operations very vulnerable at the scale and needs that are required,” said Mr. Ging.

However, the scale of the needs in South Sudan is bigger – with 7.5 million people in need, roughly half of them displaced within the country and as refugees in neighbouring countries.

In addition, South Sudan is now considered one of the most dangerous places for humanitarian workers. Since the latest outbreak of violence in South Sudan, 82 aid workers have been killed – nine just in the past month.

Famine and also the violence that broke out in 2013 has displacement millions of South Sudanese people into the neighboring countries where they are seeking refuge.

In Somalia, Thousands of children are dropping out of school in Somalia after their desperate families are fleeing   into the neighbouring countries due to the prolonging famine.

According to the statement issued by Save the Children , Millions of children in Somalia are in serious urgent need of food before June this year to halt the risk of starvation and death.

Save the Children says is in urgent need of $60 million to reach out to 1.2 million Somalis affected by the crisis.

UN aid agencies have also warned that Somalia’s 6 million people, half its population is most likely to face real famine due to food insecurity that has hit the East African nation.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has called on the international community to provide $300 million in life-saving funds.

More than 363,000 children are reported to be suffering from malnutrition, 71,000 of whom are now facing the most life-threatening form of hunger.

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