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Nearly 5 million in Mali are hungry

15 November 2014, 07:33

United Nations — A convergence of droughts, harvest failures, locust invasions and political conflicts in Mali have left 4.75 million people without enough to eat, U.N. officials said Friday.

UNICEF Emergency Director Afshan Khan said the children's agency estimates that almost a million children are suffering from varying degrees of malnutrition — and close to half a million youngsters will suffer from acute malnutrition by the end of the year.

"That's comparable to the crises we see in South Sudan and the Horn of Africa," Khan said.

John Ging, the director of U.N. humanitarian operations, warned that without an urgent infusion of additional funds "we can expect that the situation will continue to deteriorate."

He said the United Nations has received just $230 million of the $481 million it needs for humanitarian aid for Mali — just 48 percent.

In June Ging said that nearly 500,000 children under the age of five were at risk of acute malnutrition and 1.5 million people were "food insecure."

Khan said UNICEF more than doubled the number of malnourished children it was providing special nutrition for to 120,000 at the end of 2013, "but that is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed."

Ging and Khan were part of a mission of emergency directors for U.N. agencies and NGOs that visited Mali from Nov. 3-5.

"Mali has been going through a chronic nutrition crisis," Khan said. "It's related to droughts, harvest failures, locust invasions and it's further been aggravated by the political conflict, the insecurity, the population displacement."

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- AP


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