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Mo Farah “heartbroken” over climate change impact on Somaliland children

Talaado 09 julay 2024 {HMC} Sir Mo Farah, the celebrated 4x Olympic gold medallist, expressed profound sorrow over the devastating effects of climate change on child malnutrition in Somaliland, his birthplace. As a Save the Children ambassador, Farah visited Gabiley, where he witnessed firsthand the struggles of families impacted by severe droughts and floods.

During his visit, Farah met with mothers and children at a Save the Children-run health center. These mothers shared harrowing accounts of how climate-induced conditions have made it challenging to feed their families. Nearly seven million people, or about 40% of the population, now require humanitarian assistance.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see children in these conditions through no fault of their own,” Farah said. “I can’t imagine having to leave any of my children behind to find treatment for another one. It’s an impossible choice. I’m in awe of the strength and determination of these mothers who will do anything for their children in such difficult circumstances.”

Somalia is ranked as the second most vulnerable country to climate change. It has faced successive droughts and floods, exacerbating food insecurity and displacing about 3.8 million people. Five consecutive failed rainy seasons have left four million people in acute food insecurity, with almost two million children at risk of severe malnutrition. In 2022, an estimated 43,000 excess deaths occurred due to drought, half of whom were children under five.

Farah also visited a hospital in Gabiley, where he met mothers with severely malnourished children who had travelled long distances for treatment. Many of these mothers had to make the difficult decision to leave some children behind to save others.

Recent heavy rains and flash floods have further displaced 226,000 people, predominantly children, devastating livelihoods and compounding the crisis.

In a village similar to his own childhood home, Farah met Sabaad, a Save the Children community health worker. Farah observed her dedication as she treated a six-month-old boy named Hassan.

“The work Sabaad is doing is so important. The community here loves her, and I can see why,” Farah noted. “Some families shared with me the daily struggle they face to feed their children. It’s awful to hear that families haven’t eaten for days. They just want to put their children first. They’re not even thinking about themselves – they’re thinking, is my child going to eat today? Will they have clean water? Will they even have any water? One of the main reasons this is taking place is because of climate change, which seems to have only become worse over the last few years.”

A dedicated family man, Farah has been a Save the Children ambassador since January 2017. He donated £100,000 from the Mo Farah Foundation and helped launch the East Africa Food Crisis Appeal, which raised over £4.3 million.

Save the Children called on the UK government and other high-income countries to increase climate funding for lower-income nations like Somalia, which bear the brunt of a crisis they did not create. The organization also urges donors to ensure adequate funding for services that prevent and treat malnutrition. A UN appeal for $1.6 billion for Somalia in 2024 is only 20% funded.

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