Severe acute malnutrition cases rise fourfold among children in Tigray
June 14, 2021
As conflict in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia deepens, there has been a fourfold increase in weekly admissions of children for treatment of severe acute malnutrition in the past month, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a press statement Monday. At least 33,000 children in areas that aid workers can’t reach “are severely malnourished and face imminent death without immediate help,” she said.
Millions in need: In Tigray, at least 4 million people are facing severe hunger overall, with 350,000 — including 140,000 children — facing famine. Among the people screened by World Food Programme teams in 53 villages, half of mothers and almost a quarter of children are malnourished, WFP Executive Director David Beasley said last week.
UNICEF expects that 56,000 children under 5 years of age will need treatment for severe acute malnutrition this year — a figure almost six times higher than the region’s average annual caseload — Fore said.
And these staggering numbers are still only estimates. A recent analysis did not even include the food security situation in western Tigray due to a lack of information, WFP noted.
Cease-fire and humanitarian access: Armed groups blocking humanitarian access to those in need of aid is fueling this crisis. WFP said it has been able to reach “barely half” of these people, and the organization has called for a cease-fire and access to populations beyond major cities, warning that many will die otherwise.