UNICEF seeks $22mil emergency assistance for hunger-stricken Malawi children

As the lean season in Malawi hit its peak, close to 1 million children will be affected by hunger as the country struggles to cope with the worst droughtin 35 years. Despite the good rains, hunger is still widespread as families’ will only be able to harvest in late April.

UNICEF Malawi Deputy Representative, Roisin De Burca: Children affected by El Nino

The UN agency ,as part of the Humanitarian Action  for Children (HAC) for 2017, has launched an appeal today of US$22 million to respond to the crisis with the goal to provide children in the country access to safe water, nutrition, education, health and protection services.

Current statistics indicate that 94% of children aged 6 to 24 months are not meeting the minimum acceptable diet (a measure of diversity of food), while 45% of the households are classified as having inadequate food consumption, which means they consume limited or insufficient nutritious foods.

The continuing impact of the El Niño crisis and the likelihood of enhanced La Niña rains later in the season may lead to displacement of families, infrastructure damage, cholera and other disease outbreaks.

“For the past two years, adverse weather conditions as a result of the El Nino phenomenon has exposed children to different challenges. Apart from malnutrition, we have also seen a rise in the number of children dropping out of school due to hunger related issues,” says UNICEF Malawi Deputy Representative, Roisin De Burca.

“As UNICEF, we are working with partners to ensure that the rights of children in the country are not violated as they are prone to abuse under the current circumstances,”she says.

UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children sets out the agency’s 2017 appeal and the areas of priority for children to survive and thrive in the face of extraordinary challenges.

By December last year, UNICEF Malawi had reached 1,072,000 children through mass screening for malnutrition and community mobilization campaigns and 50,054 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition.

In 2017, UNICEF is targeting to treat 64,826 children aged between 6 to 59 months for severe acute malnutrition.

“Malnutrition is a silent threat to millions of children in Malawi. The damage it does is irreversible, robbing children of their mental and physical potential,” says De Burca.

“In its worst form, severe malnutrition can be deadly and we need resources to reach out to every child in Malawi so that we identify, treat and cure the disease. No child deserves to die of malnutrition,” she says.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child and  work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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