Over one million children’s lives at risk in the Sahel


19 February 2012:  An estimated 1,025,000 children in the Sahel region of Africa face severe and life threatening malnutrition warned UNICEF Ireland today as the organisation launched an Emergency Appeal for the Children of the Sahel in Dublin.

UNICEF Ireland today launched an Emergency Appeal for the children of the Sahel & warned of an impending children’s tragedy in the African region

An estimated 1,025,000 children in the Sahel region of Africa face severe and life threatening malnutrition warned UNICEF Ireland today as the organisation launched an Emergency Appeal for the Children of the Sahel in Dublin.

“Across the region, crops have failed and food prices are rising. The lives of many hundreds of thousands of children and families are at risk” said Peter Power, Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland, launching the Emergency Appeal.  “UNICEF teams are on the ground throughout the region, providing emergency food, essential supplies and healthcare. We urgently need the help of our supporters across Ireland to prevent an even greater crisis, as the situation is deteriorating rapidly.”

How Irish people can help:

To make a donation to UNICEF Ireland’s Emergency Appeal for the Children of the Sahel, please visit https://www.unicef.ie/GetInvolved/Donate-45.aspx or call 1850 767 999. Postal donations can be sent to UNICEF Ireland, 33 Lower Ormond Quay,Dublin 1.

“Even though the situation throughout the Sahel is not making headlines, agencies like UNICEF and governments throughout the region are already in emergency mode” continued Mr. Power.

Over 330,000 in Niger alone at risk of starvation

The children’s organisation is preparing to meet what it describes as a “huge challenge” and is already ordering therapeutic foods and distributing emergency stocks throughout the region. The country of gravest concern in the region is Niger, which has an estimated 330,600 children under-5 at risk of severe and acute malnutrition, and the government has issued an alert saying more than half of the country’s villages are vulnerable to food insecurity. Other countries and regions where children are expected to require specialist treatment in clinics are Chad, northern Nigeria, the north of Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and northern Senegal.

“Huge quantities of emergency feeds such as PlumpyNut - a peanut-based paste, are being purchased by UNICEF and distributed throughout the region” continued Mr. Power.  “PlumpyNut is a therapeutic food that can be easily given to children without being mixed in water, so it can work in any situation. 3 sachets a day can be all it takes to save a malnourished child’s life and a donation of €54 provides PlumpyNut for 50 malnourished children a day.”

Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow currently visiting the region

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow is currently in Chad and will visit Dublin in March to draw further attention to this crisis.  Speaking from Chad, Ms. Farrow said “People here used to farm and raise animals but all that has changed. The rains haven’t fallen in years. Four seasons of crops have failed. The animals are dying and the children too. The world hears little about the emergency in the Sahel, but as I type these words, nearly 1.1 million children are facing starvation. Without immediate help there is no hope.”

Globally, UNICEF, which relies completely on voluntary donations to carry out its work, has appealed for €50 million - primarily for more nutrition and health interventions and supplies. It is expected that this amount will be increased substantially to ensure sustainable interventions over the course of 2012. These will involve not only enhanced nutrition and health programmes but also provision of clean water, sanitation at feeding centres as well as emergency education and protection for children displaced with their families during the crisis. 


Media Interviews:

UNICEF Spokesperson Martin Dawes, who is currently travelling in the Sahel region, is available for telephone interview. 

UNICEF Ireland’s Executive Director Peter Power is also available for further comment & interview 

For reference:  Julianne Savage, UNICEF Ireland; julianne@unicef.ie


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