Nearly half the children surveyed in drought-hit northern Kenya had eaten no food for a whole day – with those separated from their parents faring even worse, shocking figures reveal.
Children are begging by the roadside as they fight for survival, putting them at risk of violence and sexual abuse, according to a World Vision report.
“This is an appalling situation that children here are facing,” said Helen Keogh, chief executive of World Vision Ireland. “We’re doing all we can to help but the scale of the crisis is so big that many children are simply being left with no one to turn to.
“Some children are being married off early to raise money for food. Disabled and orphaned children are also particularly vulnerable and are finding it very difficult to access food.
“We are calling on the international community and the Government of Kenya to urgently increase their help to target these children.”
In Kenya, World Vision is delivering water and repairing water sources as well as supplying emergency food, together with the World Food Programme, to more than 300,000 people.
The aid agency is helping 485,000 people in Ethiopia, including giving emergency food to 61,000 internally displaced people and giving supplementary food to more than 25,000 people.
In Somalia (Puntland and Somaliland ), World Vision is giving emergency food, water and running a food for work programme, helping more than 45,000 people.
According to the UN, 385,000 children and 90,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women are affected by malnutrition in Kenya’s north and north-eastern drought-affected districts.
This means one in five children is exposed to mortality, stunted growth and preventable diseases such as malaria, due to malnutrition.
Across the region, some 11.5 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
To donate to World Vision’s Horn of Africa appeal visit www.worldvision.ie or call 01 498 0800