An “unprecedented” response is needed in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa to stop the spread of hunger and malnutrition that already threatens up to seven million people, including about a million children under five, UNICEF has stressed.
The U.N. agency is appealing for an initial $65.7 million to buy and distribute therapeutic food and other relief supplies for affected populations, particularly children in Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Mauritania, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. UNICEF said the appeal also covers the cost of deploying trained professionals to address needs on the ground.
UNICEF estimates a “staggeringly high” number of more children under five — about 1 million — would need treatment for severe malnutrition.
“This children’s crisis is going to be immensely challenging,” David Gressly, UNICEF’s regional director, said. “We do not issue such warnings lightly, but the scale demands an appropriate response that needs to start now.”
Among donors that have announced support for UNICEF operations in the Sahel region is Sweden, which is contributing 20 million Swedish kronor ($2.9 million) to the organization. Sweden said it is donating 10 million Swedish kronor to a Food and Agriculture Organization project in Niger as part of its initial response to the crisis.
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