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UNICEF sounds the alarm for one million children at risk in the Sahel


TORONTO, April 3, 2012 – UNICEF is issuing a global call to action to urgently save the lives of one million children across the Sahel region of Africa. Successive droughts, rising food prices and political instability are pushing families into crisis and heightening the risks for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake arrives in Chad today to sound the alarm about this silent emergency.

An estimated 15 million people across Burkina Faso, Chad, northern Cameroon, Niger, northern Nigeria, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal are directly affected by this crisis and the situation for children is critical.

“One million young children in the Sahel will die in the next six months if we fail to act,” says David Morley, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada. “With earthquakes and floods there is little or no warning, but here we know the crisis is coming.  There will be no excuses later for not acting quickly.  We must save these children now.”

Insecurity in the region is making the nutrition crisis worse and the recent conflict in Mali which has displaced over 200,000 people has increased the demand for emergency assistance. Despite the security challenges, UNICEF is committed to scaling up life-saving interventions.

UNICEF is working with governments, international and local NGOs and community partners to reach the most vulnerable children with integrated nutrition, health, water and sanitation, education and child protection services. But resources are limited and $60 million dollars - 50% of needed funds - are still missing in order to be able to save the lives of one million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

UNICEF Canada is grateful to the Canadian International Development Agency for providing $5 million to support emergency nutrition programming in the region and is asking that all Canadians, both individuals and the private sector, to help sound the alarm and raise the resources necessary to help save the lives of one million children at risk of dying.  

A donation of $100 can save a child from severe acute malnutrition. Canadians can contribute to emergency efforts in the Sahel by donating online at


UNICEF is the world’s leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, UNICEF saves children’s lives and secures their rights in virtually every country. UNICEF’s global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make it 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 children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information, visit or follow UNICEF Canada on Facebook ( and Twitter (

For further information:

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