UNICEF’s executive director Catherine Russell has warned that almost eight million children under-five in 15 crisis-hit countries were at risk of death from severe wasting unless they received “immediate therapeutic food and care.”
According to him, these numbers keep rising by the minute as world leaders prepare to meet at the G7 Summit.
She said since the start of the year, the escalating global food crisis has forced an additional 260,000 children, or one child every 60 seconds, to suffer from severe wasting in countries such as Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen.
“We are now seeing the tinderbox of conditions for extreme levels of child wasting begin to catch fire. Food aid is critical, but we cannot save starving children with bags of wheat. We need to reach these children now with therapeutic treatment before it is too late.
“Soaring food prices driven by the war in Ukraine, persistent drought due to climate change in some countries, at times combined with conflict, and the ongoing economic impact of Covid-19 continue to drive up children’s food and nutrition insecurity worldwide, resulting in catastrophic levels of severe malnutrition in children under-5,” she said.
She, however, said UNICEF “is scaling up its efforts in 15 most affected countries and that they will be included in an acceleration plan to help avert an explosion of child deaths and mitigate the long-term damage of severe wasting.”