Millions across Africa, Yemen could be at risk of death from starvation – UN agency

Vídeo: Millions across Africa, Yemen could be at risk of death from starvation – UN agency

Warning of increasing risk of mass deaths from starvation in many countries in Africa and in Yemen due to worsening drought and conflict, the United Nations refugee agency has called for international support to prevent the repeat of the 2011 tragedy in the Horn of Africa that claimed more than 260,000 lives.

 

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New York, April 11, 2017.- “An avoidable humanitarian crisis in the region, possibly worse than that of 2011, is fast becoming an inevitability,” Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told journalists at the regular bi-weekly media briefing in Geneva.

“A repeat must be avoided at all costs.”

According to estimates, some 20 million people are living in areas hit hard by drought. About 4.2 million among them are refugees and the number of the displaced is rising as a result of consecutive harvest failures, famine and insecurity.

Worst affected are children and lactating mothers.

In southeast Ethiopia, for example, acute malnutrition rates among newly arriving Somali refugee children aged between 6 months and five years is reported in the range of 50-79 per cent. Similarly, in South Sudan, children account for the majority of the refugees (about 62 per cent).

Nearly all refugees, including these children, are dependent on food assistance, such as those provided by the World Food Programme – the UN’s emergency food relief agency – but with lack of funds to buy food rations are being cut. Worst hit are those in Uganda where rations have been cut by up to 75 per cent. Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Rwanda (by between 20 and 50 per cent) and Djibouti (by 12 per cent) are also witnessing this decrease.

“Many refugees are without full access to livelihoods and agriculture or food production and their ability to take matters into their own hands and help themselves is limited,” noted Mr. Edwards.

Almost five million children could be out of school
The severe food insecurity is also causing many students, such as those in Kenya, to drop out of school. Some 175,000 students in drought areas in the country have stopped attending school and almost 600 schools have closed in Ethiopia.

In all, some five million children could see their educations being disrupted over coming weeks and months.



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