Malnutrition may kill 50,000 children in MaliListen /
Aid agencies in Mali have expressed concern over the high levels of malnutrition in the country, warning that up to 50,000 children could die this year.
United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Mali David Gressely says urgent funding is needed to preposition therapeutic feeding products in areas worst affected by malnutrition.
He says although the security situation in Mali had improved considerably, up to 3.3 million households in the country face food insecurity due to the consequences of the 2012/2013 conflict and poor harvests last year.
He says about 168,000 Malians are still living as refugees in neighbouring countries, with many unwilling to return due to security concerns.
"We expect over 400,000 children to be affected by moderate or severe malnutrition in 2014. More than 100,000 are likely to be affected by severe acute malnutrition which has a fairly high mortality rate. So it is important that nutritional support also be maintained throughout 2014. Some of the richest agricultural regionals in Mali have some of the highest rates of malnutrition in the country. Somewhat of a contradiction, but unfortunately it's a fact. So it's important that we not be overly focused over the north. There is a need for humanitarian assistance in the north, a very strong and compelling case for that, likewise there is a need to address the broader needs across Mali where problems of malnutrition and food insecurity remain a concern for Malians."
The United Nations has appealed for $569 million to respond to the humanitarian needs in Mali during 2014.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.