(AFP) – Aug 7, 2012
GENEVA, Switzerland — The number of malnourished children is set to hit a new high of 1.5 million in the Sahel next week as cholera and locusts emerge as new threats, UNICEF warned on Tuesday.
"We're expecting to see next week the peak of admissions of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition into centres across the Sahel," spokesman Patrick McCormick told reporters in Geneva.
"This is also going to be exacerbated by the harvest in northern Niger threatened by the arrival of locusts. Everything seems to happen in that region."
The region is already suffering from a cholera outbreak while the ongoing conflict in Mali, whose north is occupied by Islamists and rebels, is hampering access to those in need, said McCormack.
In Niger, described as the "worst affected country" in the Sahel by McCormick, some 161,000 children under five years old had severe acute malnutrition based on a survey taken at the beginning of July.
In Chad, the agency has seen the monthly caseload doubled compared to 2010, with 630 children under five admitted to treatment centres.
The next few weeks will be "critical to see whether we can keep things under control and the funding coming in to treat the children with the special food they need which is incredibly expensive", said McCormick.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that a $1.6 billion (1.3 billion euros) aid appeal was only 51 percent funded, with food security funding at 58 percent and the education fund at just seven percent.
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