Severe malnutrition may claim the lives of 1.4 million children from Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen this year if urgent steps are not taken.
As violence, hunger and thirst continue to force people to move within and across borders, malnutrition rates, as stated by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “ will continue to soar not just in these four countries, but also in the Lake Chad basin and the Greater Horn of Africa if humanitarian agencies do not get the access and resources they need to reach the most vulnerable, lives will be lost.”
UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes, Manuel Fontaine, made this known in a press statement yesterday in Jalingo, Taraba State.
UNICEF Chief of Communication, Doune Porter, who represented him, said children in the aforementioned countries “can’t wait for yet another famine declaration before we take action.”
Calling for urgent measure to halt the estimated numbers of children from dying as a result of malnutrition, he said “from Somalia in 2011 by the time famine was announced, untold numbers of children had already died. That can’t happen again.”
To arrest the situation, UNICEF “will require close to $255 million to provide these children with food, water, health, education and protection services for just the next few months.”
The remaining funds will help protect children affected by conflict and displacement and provide them with education services. Cash assistance will also be offered to the most vulnerable families.
In northeast Nigeria where most of the children are imminent to death, UNICEF has resolved to reach out to 3.9 million people with emergency primary healthcare services this year, treat 220,000 severely malnourished children under the age of five, and provide more than a million people with access to safe water.
Meanwhile, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Walton Beckley yesterday said that mothers were being trained to “properly feed” their children and wards in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps to prevent severe malnutrition.
Beckley spoke yesterday at the “Infant and young child feeding counseling training” of 24 mothers at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Maiduguri.
He said the purpose was to ensure that health workers were in the position to counsel care givers and mothers of children in the camps.