UNICEF says 1m children at risk from malnutrition in Africa's Sahel

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that at least one million children are at risk of dying of malnutrition in parts of Africa’s Sahel region due to a drought crisis, and called for more resources to assist those in need.

''We estimate that in 2012 there will be over a million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. What is important to know is that malnutrition can kill,” UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programmes, Mr. Louis-Georges Arsenault, said in a statement.

The statement, made available to PANA in New York on Thursday, quoted Arsenault as saying ''we need more resources to really scale up our response before it becomes too late and too many lives are lost.''

''There are currently 15 million people facing food insecurity in the Sahel, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.

''The nutrition crisis is affecting people throughout Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal,'' he added.

The agency has appealed for US$120 million to expand its operations and provide health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and child protection services in the affected countries, however, only half of the required funding has been donated so far.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affair (OCHA), the food and nutrition crisis facing countries in the Sahel has continued to deteriorate at an alarming rate this year, despite commendable early response efforts by governments and international aid agencies.

OCHA said the worsening food shortages and malnutrition have been compounded by conflict and insecurity.

Last month, US Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the global community to act quickly to curtail what he described as a ''cascading crisis'' sweeping the region.

Also, the UN Security Council expressed serious concern over the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis, saying the presence of armed and terrorist groups, as well as the proliferation of weapons in the area, have exacerbated the problem.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 3May2012

03 Maio 2012 07:10:05

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