The lives of 1,000,000 children are at risk right now in the Sahel region in West and Central Africa. Crops have failed. Families have nothing to eat. Peter Power, Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland, travels to Chad next week (commencing on Monday) to draw further attention to this looming crisis as UNICEF continues to rush food, nutrition and other emergency relief to help children in the region.
UNICEF is the most active humanitarian aid agency in the region with over 400 existing feeding centres. However, UNICEF is warning that this needs to be scaled up to 1,500 feeding centres in order to avoid a major humanitarian disaster.
One million children in eight countries—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal—are at risk of severe acute malnutrition. Inadequate rain, poor harvests and rising food prices have left hundreds of thousands of children vulnerable and weak.
“UNICEF is determined to help children and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Peter Power, UNICEF Ireland Executive Director. “But the window of opportunity to help children from descending into life-threatening childhood malnutrition in the Sahel is now and quickly closing and I hope my visit will help draw attention to this crisis, which is now threatening the survival of an entire generation of children.”
During his week-long visit, Peter will visit therapeutic feeding centres, hospitals, cold chain facilities and local communities, where he will witness UNICEF’s work on the ground to improve maternal and child health and nutrition.
UNICEF knows what to do to save the lives of the affected children and has the capacity, unrivalled access and influence to do so. Together with emergency efforts to treat malnutrition, UNICEF’s response will focus on health, water, sanitation and hygiene, HIV, education, and child protection.
- A combination of therapeutic food, malaria prevention and treatment, immunization, diarrhoea treatment and adequate sanitation works.
- UNICEF treats children suffering from severe acute malnutrition using a community-based approach that helps build local and national capacity to combat the life-threatening condition for the long term.
- UNICEF will provide therapeutic food, therapeutic milk, vitamin A tablets, oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhoea, zinc and other micronutrients, enough nutrition professionals in the field to work at the feeding centres, and more.
Peter Power will be available for live interviews during his visit to Chad and when he returns to Dublin on May 18th.
Photographs will be available from UNICEF Ireland.