The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday an estimated 10.4 million children in eight countries, including Nigeria, may suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021.
The UNICEF, which disclosed this in a statement, said other affected countries are Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Sudan, South Sudan, and Yemen.
The statement read: “As 2021 approaches, UNICEF is deeply concerned for the health and the well-being of 10.4 million children projected to suffer from acute malnutrition next year in those countries.”
According to the agency, ongoing insecurity in the DRC, socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and limited access to essential services will cause an estimated 3.3 million children under the age of five to suffer from acute malnutrition next year.
In Nigeria’s North-East, more than 800,000 children are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition, including almost 300,000 who are estimated to be at imminent risk of death.
UNICEF said the highest number of children since 2013 – some 1.4 million – will face acute malnutrition in South Sudan next year, due to ongoing conflict, insecurity, and limited health care, water and hygiene services.
In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the number of malnourished children could increase by 21 percent to a staggering 2.9 million amid conflict, displacement and climate shocks in these Central Sahel countries.
UNICEF also warned that more than 2 million children already suffer from acute malnutrition in Yemen and the figure is expected to rise in 2021.
The agency had earlier appealed for more than $1 billion from donors to support nutrition programmes for children in fragile countries in 2021.
It also urged humanitarian actors and international donors to expand access and support for aid operations.
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