Last Updated: Monday, 20 October 2014, 15:44 GMT

UNICEF chief urges action to stop unfolding crisis for children in the Sahel

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 22 December 2011
Cite as UN News Service, UNICEF chief urges action to stop unfolding crisis for children in the Sahel, 22 December 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f0ae6522.html [accessed 21 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
The head of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) called today on the global community to take action to prevent one million children in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa from becoming severely malnourished.

"The region is vast, the challenge is great and the window is closing," said Executive Director Anthony Lake. "To prevent a wide-scale emergency in the Sahel, UNICEF and our partners in this effort must begin at once to fill the pipeline with life-sustaining supplies to the region before it is too late."

Mr. Lake stressed that a significant number of children in the Sahel already suffer from malnutrition, making them extremely vulnerable and susceptible to anThe region is vast, the challenge is great and the window is closing.y reduction in the quantity and nutritional quality of the food they consume.

He underscored the urgency to act before the ‘lean season' when food runs out due to inadequate rain or poor harvests, which can start as early as March in some of the countries across the Sahelian belt.

"Specially developed ready-to-use therapeutic foods are the best way to treat severe acute malnutrition among children under five so they have a chance to survive and recover," Mr. Lake said. "The biggest challenge we face now is getting sufficient amounts of these critical foods to children as the need increases in the coming months," he added.

"The children at risk today in the Sahel are not mere statistics by which we may measure the magnitude of a potential humanitarian disaster. They are individual girls and boys, and each has the right to survive, to thrive and to contribute to their societies. We must not fail them."

Earlier this month UNICEF appealed for $65.7 million to respond to the crisis. It is currently distributing emergency stocks in affected countries such as Niger, where an estimated 33,600 children under the age of five are at risk.

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