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UNICEF calls for action to avert child malnutrition in South Sudan

Last Updated: Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 22:19

Nairobi: UNICEF Saturday called for more efforts to help thousands of children suffering from acute malnutrition in South Sudan.

The UNICEF Representative to South Sudan Jonathan Veitch warned that malnutrition in South Sudan is on the verge of a nutrition crisis and nearly a quarter of 1 million children will suffer acute nutrition deficiency by the end of the year if more is not done now, Xinhua reported.

"Sadly, worse is yet to come. If conflict continues, and farmers miss the planting season, we will see child malnutrition on a scale never before experienced here," Veitch said in a statement Saturday.

Many children in South Sudan already faced alarming levels of malnutrition in the two and a half years since independence in 2011.

The UN body said that the ongoing conflict, which erupted in December 15, 2013, has pushed children to the edge.

If proper treatment is not given immediately, around 50,000 children under the age of five will die, the representative said.

He said more than 3.7 million people, including almost 740,000 children under five, in the country were at high risk of food insecurity. Many are already resorting to eating so-called "famine foods," wild foods such as bulbs and grasses.

UNICEF said its immediate goal is to treat more than 150,000 severely malnourished children under five.

First Published: Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 22:19

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