1.4 million children at imminent risk of death in famines:UNICEF

Regina Aluel holds her grandson Agop Manut, 11-months-old, who suffers acute malnutrition and respiratory distress at the clinic run by Doctors Without Borders in Aweil, northern Bahr al-Ghazal, South Sudan in 2016 (AFP Photo)

Regina Aluel holds her grandson Agop Manut, 11-months-old, who suffers acute malnutrition and respiratory distress at the clinic run by Doctors Without Borders in Aweil, northern Bahr al-Ghazal, South Sudan in 2016 (AFP Photo)

Almost 1.4 million children suffering from severe malnutrition could die this year from famine in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, the UN children’s agency said Monday. People are already starving to death in all four countries, and the World Food Programme says more than 20 million lives are at risk in the next six months.


In Yemen, where war has been raging for nearly two years, 462,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition while 450,000 children are severely malnourished in northeast Nigeria.

Fews Net, the famine early warning system, said some remote areas of Nigeria’s Borno state are already affected by famine since late last year and the disaster is likely to continue as aid agencies are unable to reach those in need.

Drought in Somalia has left 185,000 children on the brink of famine but that figure is expected to reach 270,000 in the next few months, said UNICEF.

South Sudan has also been hit by the same east African drought that has pushed Somalia back to the brink of famine, six years after 260,000 people starved to death in 2011.

Map of main areas affected by drought in the Sahel area.

Map of main areas affected by drought in the Sahel area.

UNICEF said 185,000 children were expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition in Somalia this year, but the figure was likely to rise to 270,000 in the next few months.

Another 462,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Yemen, where two years of war have caused economic collapse and severe restrictions on shipping.

Famine has been ongoing since last year in parts of northeastern Nigeria, where the government is fighting the militant group Boko Haram. The number of children with severe acute malnutrition is expected to reach 450,000 this year, UNICEF said.

UNICEF director Anthony Lake appealed for quick action. “We can still save many lives,” he said.

UN Security Council ambassadors are due to travel to northern Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad an d Niger next month to draw international attention to the humanitarian crisis triggered by the conflict with Boko Haram militants.

 

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