UNICEF says almost 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition this year, as famine looms in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said though “time is running out for more than a million children,” but said “we can still save many lives.”
In a statement, Mr Lake said “in northeast Nigeria, the number of children with severe acute malnutrition is expected to reach 450,000 this year in the conflict-affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobi.”
The statement also quotes Fews Net, the famine early warning system that monitors food insecurity, as saying that “late last year that famine likely occurred in some previously inaccessible areas of Borno states, and that it is likely ongoing, and will continue, in other areas which remain beyond humanitarian reach.”
Moving on to Somalia, he said “drought conditions are threatening an already fragile population battered by decades of conflict with almost half the population, or 6.2 million people facing acute food insecurity and in need of humanitarian assistance”.
Some 185,000 children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year, however this figure is expected to rise to 270,000 in the next few months.
Also in South Sudan, unicef says “the total number of food insecure people across the country is expected to rise from 4.9 million to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis.”
And in Yemen, where a conflict has been raging for the past two years, 462,000 children are currently suffering from severe acute malnutrition – a nearly 200 per cent increase since 2014.
Unicef says this year it is “working with partners to provide therapeutic treatment to 220,000 severely malnourished children in Nigeria, over 200,000 severely malnourished children in South Sudan, more than 200,000 severely malnourished children in Somalia, and 320,000 children in Yemen.”