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13 Dec 2011 06:35 AM

Millions of people in African Sahel need food assistance, U.N. agencies say


"Millions of people in Africa's Sahel region need urgent help to cope with food shortages brought on by erratic rainfall and drought, and at least one million children in the area face malnutrition next year, U.N. agencies warned," AlertNet reports. "The World Food Programme (WFP), which called for a new type of response to climate-related crises, estimates that between five and seven million people in the semi-arid zone just south of the Sahara need assistance now," and it "said the situation would worsen if nothing was done to help the countries in need -- as more people are expected to run out of food supplies by February and March next year," the news service writes (Fominyen, 12/9).

Meanwhile, UNICEF warned on Friday that "[m]ore than a million children in the Sahel region of West Africa are at risk of severe and life-threatening malnutrition over the coming year as a result of ongoing food shortages, ... saying it requires an initial $65.7 million to respond to the crisis," the U.N. News Centre reports (12/9).  The agency said approximately 330,600 children are at risk of malnutrition in Niger, and UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado said children in seven other countries and regions, including Chad, northern Nigeria, the north of Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and northern Senegal, "will require specialist treatment in clinics for malnutrition," VOA News notes (Schlein, 12/9).

This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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