UNITED NATIONS : Millions of children are onthe brink of starvation in the worst humanitarian crisis in decades,United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned Wednesday, urgentlycalling for nearly $255 million to respond to immediate needs innortheast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
“Time is running out,” UNICEF said, noting the threat from famine, drought and war. Some 22 million children are hungry, sick, displaced and outof school in the four countries, according to the UN agency. Nearly1.4 million are at imminent risk of death this year from severe malnutrition.
“We learned from Somalia in 2011 that by the time famine wasannounced, untold numbers of children had already died. Thatcan’t happen again,” Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes, said.
Famine was declared a month ago in South Sudan, and will likelybe declared soon in Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen where fighting haspushed people off their farmland and droughts have destroyed theiranimals and what is left of crops.
“Children can’t wait for yet another famine declaration beforewe take action,” Fontaine said.The UN agency is calling for close to $255 million to provide22 million children with food, water, health, education andprotection services for just the next few months, according to a new funding update.
The majority of that funding will go towards nutrition programmesto screen children and provide them with therapeutic food, as wellas health services and water and sanitation.
This request is part of a broader appeal for all of 2017 totaling $712 million, up 50 per cent from what was requestedfor these four countries at the same time last year. -APP