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About 1 million African children face severe acute malnutrition: UNICEF

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Monday, February 22nd, 2016
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NAIROBI, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) — About 1 million children in Eastern and Southern Africa are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition as El Nino weather wreaks havoc on lives and livelihoods in the region, the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has warned.

UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala said early this week that in 2014 and 2015, a series of climatic shocks ruined harvests, leaving many children and their families dependent on food aid to survive.

“Governments are responding with available resources, but this is an unprecedented situation. Children’s survival is dependent on action taken today,” Gharagozloo-Pakkala said in the latest briefing on the impact of El Nino on children in the region.

UNICEF said millions of children across eastern and southern Africa are struggling to cope with food insecurity, lack of water, disease and threats to their education and safety.

The UN agency said two years of erratic rain and drought have combined with one of the most powerful El Nino events in 50 years to wreak havoc on the lives of the most vulnerable children.

“The El Nino weather phenomenon will wane, but the cost to children — many who were already living hand-to-mouth — will be felt for years to come,” Gharagozloo-Pakkala said.

Enhanced rainfall related to El Nino has also been experienced in Kenya and Somalia, leading to some localized flooding and displacement of families.

UNICEF said, together with its partners, they are working around the clock to prevent and reduce the health effects of El Nino, including stepping up vaccination drives, mobilizing communities to promote health and hygiene practices, improving water and sanitation services, providing emergency medical care and maintaining access to health services.

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