More Than 1M Children Under Age 5 At Risk Of Malnutrition In Sahel, UNICEF Warns

“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is warning that more than a million children below the age of five in the Sahel are facing a disaster amid the ongoing food crisis in the drought-prone region of Africa,” the U.N. News Centre reports (3/16). “‘More extreme conditions could see this number rise to about 1.5 million and the problem is that funding is not coming in at the rate that we need in order to prepare properly,’ [UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado] said. ‘So far we have received just one-fifth of the $119 million we have asked for in 2012,'” VOA News writes (3/16).

“The crisis is caused by poor rainfall and failed harvests, and aggravated by the conflict in Mali that has seen people flee their homes, with some refugees going to neighboring countries,” GlobalPost writes (Conway-Smith, 3/16). In total, “some 15 million people [are] estimated to be at risk of food insecurity in countries in the Sahel, including 5.4 million people in Niger, three million in Mali, 1.7 million in Burkina Faso and 3.6 million in Chad, as well as hundreds of thousands in Senegal, the Gambia, and Mauritania, according to U.N. figures,” the U.N. News Service notes (3/16). Reuters examines “factors outside the usual cycle of drought and food scarcity” contributing to the crisis (Massalaatchi, 3/16).