(MENAFN - Arab News) The National Saudi Campaign for Somali People Relief on Saturday signed an agreement to provide 2 million to UNICEF Somalia for its therapeutic food program for children with malnutrition.
The program is expected to include the treatment of 25,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition as well as immunization, health care and treatment, provisions for clean drinking water, education and other services.
"We are grateful to the government and the people of Saudi Arabia for this new funding which comes at a crucial juncture," Sikander Khan, UNICEF Somalia country representative, said in an email to Arab News.
The reason for much of the malnutrition suffered in the African nation, according to UNICEF, is due to last year's drought that has not only left the country in famine conditions but also susceptible to outbreaks of numerous diseases.
According to Khan, UNICEF is currently working to ensure sustainable progress by moving toward investing in medium and long-term interventions including increasing access and demand of individuals to basic services including health, nutrition and education.
"Despite the challenges, generous support from our donors has allowed us to treat over 126,000 malnourished children so far this year as well as providing vaccinations, clean water and blanket supplementary feeding among other activities," Khan added.
In December, Saudi Arabia reportedly contributed 1.58 million to UNICEF Niger to support its polio eradication program. The funds were aimed at purchasing oral polio vaccine (OPV), allowing the Niger government to immunize up to 3.77 million children in 2011.
The grant from Saudi Arabia to Niger was part of a total contribution of 10 million to UNICEF to support immunization of 33 million children under the age of five across the Middle East and African region.
Currently, UNICEF maintains that Somalia has as many as 325,000 acutely malnourished children in crisis.