The United Nations on Tuesday warned that more than 400,000 children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are severely malnourished and could die within months without emergency intervention.
The crisis — the latest to hit the poverty-stricken, strife-torn central African country — is unfolding in the vast region of Kasai, the UN’s children fund UNICEF said.
An 18-month-long combination of violence, mass displacement and slumping agricultural output are having a devastating impact on the very young, it said.
“At least 400,000 children under five… are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and could die in 2018 if they are not urgently reached with life-saving health and nutrition interventions,” it said bluntly.
The children are the neediest of more than three-quarters of a million who are badly malnourished, even though the security situation in some parts has stabilized and displaced people are starting to return home.
“This nutrition crisis and food insecurity in the Kasai region follows the displacement of thousands of families who have been living for months in very harsh conditions,” said Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF’s acting representative in the DRC.
“The true scale of the problem is becoming clear as people are returning home in some areas where the security situation has improved and health services have started functioning again.”