UNICEF warns of child nutrition crisis in Africa's Sahel region

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Saturday warned that more than a million children in the Sahel region of West Africa were at risk of severe and life-threatening malnutrition over the coming year as a result of ongoing food shortages.

UNICEF in a statement made available to PANA in New York, said it would require an initial US$65.7 million to respond to the crisis.

It stated it was already ordering therapeutic foods and distributing emergency stocks in affected countries.

It said that the biggest caseload is in Niger Republic, where an estimated 330,600 children under the age of five were at risk.

"Niger’s Government has already issued an alert saying more than half of the country’s villages are vulnerable to food insecurity," the statement noted.

It also said that other areas where children were expected to require specialist treatment in clinics weare Chad, northern Nigeria, northern Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and northern Senegal.

David Gressly, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said: "This children’s crisis is going to be immensely challenging.

"We do not issue such warnings lightly, but the scale demands an appropriate response that needs to start now.

"A tragedy will be averted only by an unprecedented effort in the Sahel.

"This will involve making sure that professionals are on the ground with the right supplies and that enough is done to contain the threat of opportunistic diseases amongst the weakened populations."

Meanwhile, UNICEF said that the initial US$65.7 million needed urgently will be used primarily for nutrition and health interventions and supplies.

The agency said that the amount will have to be increased substantially to ensure sustainable interventions over the course of the coming year.

"There will be need for not only enhanced nutrition and health programmes, but also provision of clean water, sanitation at feeding centres as well as emergency education and protection for children displaced with their families," UNICEF said.

According to Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva, regional food production in the Sahel is down by 8 per cent compared to last year.

"The return of migrant workers from Cote d’Ivoire and Libya to some of the countries in the region further reduced the financial capacity of households as families need to feed those who came back, often returning with nothing," she said.
-0- PANA AA/MA 10Dec2011





body Health-US/UNICEF/Africa-Nutrition

UNICEF warns on child nutrition crisis in Africa's Sahel region

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Saturday warned more than a million children in the Sahel region of West Africa are at risk of severe and life-threatening malnutrition over the coming year as a result of ongoing food shortages.

UNICEF in a statement made available to PANA in New York, said it would require an initial US$65.7 million to respond to the crisis.

It stated it was already ordering therapeutic foods and distributing emergency stocks in affected countries.

It said that the biggest caseload is in Niger Republic, where an estimated 330,600 children under the age of five are at risk.

"Niger’s Government has already issued an alert saying more than half of the country’s villages are vulnerable to food insecurity," the statement noted.

It also said that other areas where children are expected to require specialist treatment in clinics are Chad, northern Nigeria, northern Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and northern Senegal.

David Gressly, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said: "This children’s crisis is going to be immensely challenging".

"We do not issue such warnings lightly, but the scale demands an appropriate response that needs to start now," he said.

"A tragedy will be averted only by an unprecedented effort in the Sahel.

10 décembre 2011 14:42:06




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