UNICEF expressses concern for children in the Sahel region

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Children in the Sahel

Over 1.5 million children face starvation in the Sahel region of West Africa over the next six months, according to the UN Children's agency (UNICEF).

The agency says a combination of drought and conflict is stalking children in the region and could have disastrous consequences on the lives of children below the age of five.

UNICEF says it plans to feed some one million children suffering from severe and acute malnutrition over the next six months.

Marixie Mercado from UNICEF says the situation of children in the Sahel region looks bleak due to lack of adequate donor support.

"Early warnings on this crisis were issued months ago. As of now, we have received 24 million dollars against an emergency appeal of 119 million dollars for 2012. With that amount of money we have been able to stock and order ready to use therapeutic food to meet the needs until the end of June. But the lean season will last until August if not longer. We still need funding for the other elements of the nutritional response which, for children, are critical. Antibiotics, cholera season starts in April so water and sanitation products, purification tablets, water pumps and jerry cans. All of these elements need to be in place for a comprehensive integrated nutritional response."

Up to 10 million people in Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and parts of Nigeria, Cameroon and Senegal are facing severe food shortages caused by poor rainfall and failed harvests. An upsurge of conflict in northern Mali, as well as insecurity in northern Nigeria is complicating the aid operation.

Duration: 43"

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