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Malnutrition greatest threat to children in emergencies, UNICEF 2012 report

2012-01-27

More than 1 million children in West and Central Africa in danger of severe malnutrition

TORONTO, January 27, 2012 – UNICEF released its 2012 Humanitarian Action Report for Children today revealing a significant increase in demand for emergency nutrition programs to assist vulnerable children and women living in crisis worldwide.

“All 25 countries in this year’s report need emergency nutrition support,” says UNICEF Canada’s President and CEO David Morley. “The requirements are a staggering 47 per cent higher this year than last.”

Approximately half of the $383 million USD emergency nutrition appeal is for countries continuing to suffer through crisis in the Horn of Africa; Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. A significant portion is also for the emerging children’s crisis in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa, where more than 1 million children are in danger of becoming severely malnourished.

In early December UNICEF warned of a looming crisis in the region that would require major malnutrition interventions in eight countries; Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, northern Nigeria, the north of Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania and northern Senegal.

“The time to respond to the emerging situation in the Sahel is now,” says Morley. “UNICEF has always stressed early warnings and action on humanitarian disasters. We must prevent a crisis in this region. Children’s lives depend on it."

In total UNICEF’s 2012 Humanitarian Action for Children report appeals for $1.28 billion USD to assist 97 million people in 25 countries.

Beyond the two large humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, the report highlights other ‘silent emergencies.’ These include the needs of children and their families displaced by violence stemming from the November 2010 elections in Cote d’Ivoire and the independence of South Sudan.

In Pakistan five million people were affected by a second year of flooding and political turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has created new humanitarian needs.

Along with emergency nutrition support UNICEF’s humanitarian responses include emergency education, health, child protection, shelter and water and sanitation-related interventions. Today’s report stresses the importance of emergency preparedness and building resilience as critical in reducing death and injury in emergency situations.

UNICEF’s humanitarian interventions are supported entirely by voluntary donations and help all children regardless of race, religion or politics. The report is available on unicef.ca.

What:   UNICEF’s new Humanitarian Action for Children report
             Malnutrition greatest threat to children in 2012
             UNICEF warns of emerging crisis in Sahel region

Who:    UNICEF Canada’s President and CEO David Morley
             UNICEF nutrition experts
             Canadian UNICEF staff in the Sahel and other regions

Where: Toronto, the Sahel and other crisis regions

When:   2012 Humanitarian Action for Children report released January 27, 2012

About UNICEF

UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.