No fewer than 800,000 children will suffer acute malnutrition in Northeast Nigeria this year, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said.
UNICEF in a recent statement said about 300,000 children of the total projection is at imminent risk of death.
AgroNigeria reported in November that no less than 124 children in Kaduna State had died of malnutrition with over 21,000 of them hospitalised.
In the new projection from UNICEF, the international agency further said that about 10.4 million children in seven African countries, including Nigeria, will suffer from acute malnutrition in the New Year.
According to the agency, the six other countries are the Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, South Sudan and Yemen.
“As 2021 approaches, UNICEF is deeply concerned for the health and well-being of 10.4 million children projected to suffer from acute malnutrition next year in those countries,” the statement read in part.
The impact of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, insecurity and limited access to health services are among the contributory factors to the current situation, UNICEF noted.
In Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, the number of malnourished children could increase by 21 per cent to a staggering 2.9 million amid conflict, displacement and climate change in the region, the statement further said.
In Yemen, the number of malnourished children is expected to rise from its previous two million children caseload.
For the D.R. Congo, an estimated 3.3 million children are projected to suffer from malnutrition this year owing to the aforementioned factors – the impact of the pandemic, insecurity and limited access to healthcare.
“For countries reeling from the consequences of conflicts, disasters and climate change, COVID-19 has turned a nutrition crisis into an imminent catastrophe.
“Families already struggling to feed their children and themselves are now on the brink of famine. We can’t let them be the forgotten victims of 2020,” UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said.
Meanwhile, over 1.4 million children are projected to face acute malnutrition in South Sudan due to the same factors, including poor hygiene.
UNICEF observed that the South Sudan projection is the highest since 2013.
The international aid body, therefore, called for local and international support for children in the listed countries.
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