Unicef has warned that nearly one million children under the age of five could suffer from acute malnutrition in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso by 2023. The UN agency has indicated that some 970,000 children could be affected in the three states, which have widespread poverty and where jihadist attacks are common. According to the Unicef statement, Niger is the country that could suffer the greatest child famine, with up to 430,000 children expected to be acutely malnourished.
Despite this, the decrease of 60,000 fewer children than in 2022 can be attributed to the strong mobilization of the Niger government, Unicef, and its partners. On the other hand, Mali will see child famine increase by 18.4%, with an expected 367,000 children under 5 years of age. Growing insecurity and conflict are increasing vulnerability in the region and making it increasingly difficult to help communities in isolated areas suffering from jihadist attacks, said Marie-Pierre Poirier, Unicef’s regional director for West and Central Africa.
Unicef has urged governments in North Africa to “make child nutrition one of their top national priorities” and to “increase national investments in the prevention, detection, and early treatment of malnutrition.” Conflict, insecurity, and humanitarian crises, such as drought and floods, are contributing to the severe malnutrition situation in Sahelian countries, which is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unicef is working with governments, partners, and communities to prevent and treat malnutrition, but resources are limited. A collective effort is needed to address the humanitarian crisis and protect the most vulnerable children in the Sahel region.
UNICEF sounds the alarm that the central Sahel nations of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso are on the brink of a severe acute malnutrition crisis, with nearly one million children at risk due to conflict, climate change, and skyrocketing food prices—a fate similar to that of Somalia and Haiti. “Approximately 970,000 children” will face severe wasting in the three countries, the UN agency said. Further, Niger is facing an especially critical situation, as it has the highest burden of severe wasting in the central Sahel and is forecast to have 430,000 children at risk this year.
Leave a Reply