The Daily Star
Sunday June 26, 2022
Every minute, the global hunger crisis is pushing one child
into life-threatening, severe malnutrition, according to the UN children's
It called for $1.2 billion to meet the urgent needs of eight
million children at risk of death from severe malnutrition, mainly in African
nations, such as Burkina Faso, Chad, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and also
Afghanistan and Haiti.
The UN agency last Thursday said the number of desperately
hungry children suffering from severe malnutrition continued to grow.
Between January and June, that number increased by well over
250,000, from 7.67 million to 7.93 million children.
This comes as the price of ready-to-use food to treat severe
malnutrition soared by 16 percent in recent weeks, owing to a sharp rise in the
cost of raw ingredients.
Unicef said the price spike left up to 600,000 more children
without access to life-saving treatment and at risk of death.
"We are now seeing the tinderbox of conditions for
extreme levels of child wasting begin to catch fire," Unicef Executive
Director Catherine Russell said.
"Food aid is critical, but we cannot save starving
children with bags of wheat. We need to reach these children now with
therapeutic treatment before it is too late."
Soaring food prices driven by the war in Ukraine, persistent
drought due to climate change in some countries, at times combined with
conflict, and the ongoing economic impact of Covid-19, are driving up food and
nutrition insecurity worldwide, resulting in catastrophic levels of severe
malnutrition in children under five.
Within the 15 countries highlighted as most at risk by
Unicef, the agency estimates that at least 40 million children are severely
nutrition insecure, meaning they are not receiving the bare minimum diverse
diet they need to grow and develop in early childhood.
Also, 21 million children are severely food insecure,
meaning they lack access to enough food to meet minimum food needs, leaving
them at high risk of severe wasting.