Children in dire situation despite temporary improvements in food security

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A UN agency says tens of thousands of children under the age of five remain at risk of malnutrition-related death in South Sudan, despite temporary improvements in the food security situation.

A UN agency says tens of thousands of children under the age of five remain at risk of malnutrition-related death in South Sudan, despite temporary improvements in the food security situation.

 

The United Nations Children Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued a statement in response to a report that was earlier released by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) group of experts.

 

“Thousands of malnourished children who have not yet been reached remain in peril,” said Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan. “We have to take advantage of the coming dry season – and passable roads – to preposition life-saving supplies for the treatment of children suffering from malnutrition. It is critical that we are able to accelerate our response during this window of opportunity.”

 

The UNICEF statement said that malnutrition, especially among young children, was not mirroring improvements in food security because of high rates of disease, lack of safe water and lack of access to basic health care.

 

“Diarrhoea and other illnesses prevent children from absorbing nutrients, so even where there is improved access to food, children can still be dangerously malnourished. Those in conflict-affected areas, especially the 1.4 million people who are internally displaced – more than half of whom are children – are the most at risk,” said the statement.

 

The organization says that malnutrition rates for children are at critical or serious levels in most parts of South Sudan.

 

“In some areas where large numbers of people displaced by the conflict have gathered, the rates of acute malnutrition for children are over 30 per cent; this is more than double officially recognized emergency levels,” says UNICEF.

 

The IPC warns that the outlook for 2015 remains of great concern, with 2.5 million people at crisis or emergency levels from January to March. Although the IPC projection does not extend beyond March 2015, the lean months in South Sudan usually peak around May. Children, who are always the most vulnerable to food shortages, will therefore be at even greater risk of malnutrition, says UNICEF.

 

A UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report released last week says the humanitarian situation has continued to deteriorate, with more than 1.8 million people displaced and 1.3 million people facing emergency levels of food insecurity.

 

It says a total of US$1.8 billion is required for the Crisis Response Plan in 2014. As of 15 September, some $838 million is still needed to provide assistance until the end of December 2014.

 

(Original information by Unicef. Additional information  by TCT)

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