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DRC: 770,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition

Children at risk of death due to severe malnutrition unless serious action taken in 2018

DRC: 770,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition FILE PHOTO

By Felix Nkambeh Tih


At least 770,000 children under five suffer from acute malnutrition in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo due to conflict, the United Nations Children's Fund said in a report released Friday.

"Conflict and displacement continue to have devastating consequences for the children of Kasai," said Fatoumata Ndiaye, UNICEF's deputy executive director.

She said thousands of displaced children have spent months without access to healthcare, clean water, and education, and their wellbeing has suffered tremendously.

"Now that access is improving, the Government and the humanitarian partners, with support from the international community, must ramp up lifesaving interventions for children before it's too late," Ndiaye said in the report.

The UN agency said that 400,000 children would be at risk of death because of severe acute malnutrition if humanitarian action is not stepped up in 2018.

The violence started in the Kasai region in August 2016, sparked by tensions between customary chiefs in Kasai-Central Province and the government. It spread rapidly in early 2017, according to UNICEF.

"Now that people are returning to their communities, thousands of children can be reached with humanitarian aid. Since the beginning of 2017, UNICEF and its partners have treated 71,500 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition," said Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF's representative in DRC.

He said the UN agency is increasing the distribution of therapeutic food in health centers and hospitals for the treatment of malnourished children and it is increasing training activities for community health workers to promote best nutritional practices.

Despite a lull in the fighting, some 3.8 million people, including 2.3 million children, are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN agency.

There are several militia groups in eastern DRC that often attack villages, stealing food, medicine, and other property.

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