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Nearly 400,000 children at risk of severe acute malnutrition in the Greater Kasai due to violence – UNICEF

© UNICEF
A nurse from the Kabea Kamwanga hospital treats a malnourished child with medical supplies provided by UNICEF, in May 2017

KINSHASA/DAKAR/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 24 May 2017– The crisis in Greater Kasai in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has severely disrupted life-saving interventions for children in recent months, putting an estimated 400,000 children at risks of severe acute malnutrition, said UNICEF.

Across the five provinces of Greater Kasai, critical health infrastructures are no longer operational due to the conflict. In Central Kasai Province alone, more than one-third of health centers have been forced to close following looting, due to security concerns for staff or lack of medical supplies, depriving children of vital services and medicine.

“These children are among the most vulnerable in the country, and now they face a looming crisis if access to basic services is not restored quickly,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Without adequate health care, without access to food and clean water, the lives of hundreds of thousands of children are at risk.”

The nutrition situation of children is of particular concern because insecurity has made farming difficult for the local population. Eight health zones in Greater Kasai have been put on nutritional alert since the intensification of the conflict in August 2016. Supplies of food and basic necessities are dwindling, and displacement has forced families to live in conditions with inadequate hygiene or sanitation.

Even before the latest wave of violence, the Kasai Provinces were among the poorest in the country. More than one in ten children die before the age of five due to lack of adequate health care. Half the children suffer from chronic malnutrition or stunting. In recent months, widespread conflict across the region has exacerbated the situation.

"Our priority over the next few weeks is to reach thousands of severely malnourished children that can no longer be cared for in the health centers that have been destroyed,” said Tajudeen Oyewale, acting UNICEF Representative in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “But insecurity in these remote areas is making our work very challenging.”

UNICEF has stepped up its humanitarian response across the five Kasai provinces, providing therapeutic food to thousands of children in nutritional centres and training hundreds of community workers so they are able to screen children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

UNICEF needs US $40.2 million for its emergency response in Greater Kasai.

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About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org

Photos available here

 For more information:

• Yves Willemot, UNICEF DRC, +243 81 88 46 746, ywillemot@unicef.org
• Sylvie Sona, UNICEF DRC, +243 81 70 96 215, nssona@unicef.org
• Patrick Rose, UNICEF Regional Office, +221 78 63 80 250, prose@unicef.org
• Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF Geneva, +41 22 909 5716, +41 799639244, cboulierac@unicef.org
• Joe English, UNICEF New York, + 1 917 893 0692, jenglish@unicef.org


 

 

 

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