Millions of children in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere face hunger and disease and are living under the threat of famine as their societies get more and more developed, according to a report by the World Food Programme.
The United Nations Children’s Fund says in the report, “Children are being denied access to food, water and basic health care and are being forced to make decisions about their lives and future without a meaningful stake in their future,” in a statement.
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In Africa, where the UNICEF report says more than 1.2 billion children live in extreme poverty, “it’s a very real possibility that the number of children with acute malnutrition in this region will double to more than one million children by 2030,” said David Goodrich, senior director for UNICEFs food-security programme, in a press release.
In addition, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation says there are nearly half a billion children under the age of five in Africa who are malnourished, according the report.
In the Middle Eastern and North African region, where UNICEf says nearly 3 billion children are living in extreme hunger, “children in these regions are also at a higher risk of malnutrition, and in the event of famine, many children in these areas are also in danger of hunger and malnutrition,” Goodrich said.
“There is also a risk that malnutrition among children will increase in the coming years.”
In China, where about a third of the world population is undernourishing, there are an estimated 6.5 million children under five in extreme or acute malnutrition, the report said.
In North Korea, where nearly 4 million children are undernurished, there’s an estimated 3.5 billion children in extreme and acute malnutrition.
And in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where an estimated 8.2 million children suffer from malnutrition, there were about 2.7 million undernursing children in the past year, the agency said.
Here are the key findings from the UN report: More than 6 million children live under the risk of undernurturing by 2030: The number of under-nourishment children is estimated at 1.6 million children.
In many countries, particularly those that have experienced significant population growth, this means that a substantial proportion of the undernurbished children are now in extreme deprivation.
More than 10 million children have died of undernutrition in the last decade.
“In some parts of the developing world, undernurement has risen to an epidemic rate, with more than 50 percent of children under age five undernured, with one in five children in sub-Saharan Africa undernursed,” the report found.
There are approximately 830 million under-five deaths in the world, according a World Health Organization (WHO) estimate.
“It is now estimated that at least half of these deaths will occur in developing countries in subadar, which is also where the current crisis in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen has occurred,” said Goodrich.
The report recommends the world adopt a “zero-tolerance approach” to child undernutrition, with the UN taking “a comprehensive approach to the management of underutilized resources” and investing in the “safe, secure and equitable delivery of essential child nutrition services.”
It also recommends that governments, social agencies and aid agencies develop a comprehensive child nutrition policy and implement it in all regions of the globe.
“The UNICEFS report highlights the urgent need to build a better future for children and to tackle child undernervation and hunger through the global action plan,” said UNICEFF’s Goodrich in the release.