Children battling escalating malnutrition in North-East – UNICEF

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has raised concerns over the alarming rate of acute malnutrition among children due to lack of access for humanitarian workers in Marte local government area of Borno state.

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The United Nations agency said protracted conflict has continued to impact on the ability of households to produce food on their farmlands and this has resulted in increased food insecurity.

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UNICEF Emergency Manager, Andrea Malatesta stated this shortly after field mission to Marte LGA Borno State at weekend.

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He said, “Children in northeast Nigeria are battling escalating levels of malnutrition and they need immediate, and holistic response to address this.

 

“Insecurity remains the number one challenge. Access to New Marte is only possible by road and humanitarian operations rely heavily on military escort to transport personnel, supplies and other critical resources to support the local population affected by conflict.

 

“Being an area with security concerns, military escorts or safety sweep are required for the safe movement of individuals and goods.

 

“However, the availability of such escorts is often inconsistent or unreliable, leading to potential risks and vulnerabilities.”

 

Andrea maintained that many households do not always get nutritious food that they need, and many adopt coping strategies like skipping meals.

 

“With the support of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), we are making sure that the therapeutic food, supplements and medications that children with SAM need are available.

 

“As a result, children and pregnant and lactating mothers do not have nutritious food crucial to their survival and development, hence the high cases of MAM and SAM.

 

“Over 460,000 children were treated for acute malnutrition across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in 2023.

 

“So far this year, 8,605 children between the ages of 6-59 months have been screened for malnutrition. During these screening exercises, 2,156 malnourished children were identified, admitted into the nutrition programme and they fully recovered. (1,358 severe acute malnutrition, 798 moderate acute malnutrition).” Andrea explained.

 

He noted that UNICEF and partner, Monclub International, are using the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) programme to ensure that no child dies of malnutrition, cholera or water borne diseases in New Marte.

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