Amidst fear of malnutrition, thirst and disease threatening lives of millions of children in Northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2017 is working with partners to provide therapeutic and life-saving food treatment to over 314,000 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.
The organisation through the UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes, Manuel Fontaine, confirmed that in all the three countries and part of Nigeria, food shortage is of the highest concern and the number of children at imminent risk of death remained alarming.
He stressed that the announcement of an end to famine conditions in South Sudan this week should not distract everyone from the fact that severe food insecurity continued to put the lives of millions of children at risk in the affected areas.
There is no room for complacency. While famine has been reversed in South Sudan, the lives of millions of children are still hanging by a thread.
The crisis is far from over and we must continue to scale up our response and insist on unconditional humanitarian access, otherwise the progress made could rapidly be undone,” Fontaine said.
He added that Boko Haram‘s violence in Nigeria continues to contribute to large-scale population displacement and around 5.2 million people and 450,000 children remain severely food insecure and expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year.
He said the start of the rainy season will further complicate the humanitarian response, with deteriorating road conditions and flooding making populations harder to reach, and raising the risk of water-borne diseases.
According to UNICEF, in a bid to solve the problems faced, the organisation requires 251 million dollars to provide children with food, water, health, education and protection services until the end of the year in the affected areas.
So far, in Somalia, 1.8 million people had been reportedly reached with safe water, and in Nigeria, over 2.6 million people will be reached with a basic supply of clean water this year.