UNICEF warns of more child deaths as food prices soar due to Ukraine war

In a new report published by UNICEF on Tuesday, the agency warned that a growing number of children are likely to die from “severe wasting” as the inflation increases, including prices of food and life-saving treatment rises.

The consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued climate change, are causing a “spiralling global food crisis,” the UN agency for Children warned.

What is UNICEF’s warning?

UNICEF noted in a new “Child Alert” report that 600,000 additional children might miss out on essential treatments, such as packets containing high-energy paste made of ingredients including peanuts, oil, sugar and added nutrients.

Raw materials for ready-to-eat packets to help malnourished youngsters regain their health have increased by 16 per cent, according to the report. To cover the gap, UNICEF would require additional cash.

Meanwhile, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, more children are likely to become malnourished in the first place.

“The world is rapidly evolving a virtual tinderbox of preventable child deaths and child suffering from wasting,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell in a statement.

“For millions of children annually, these sachets of therapeutic paste are the difference between life and death. A 16 per cent cost upsurge may sound manageable in the context of international food markets, but at the end of that supply chain is a desperately malnourished child, for whom the stakes are not manageable at all,” stated Russell.

The number of children suffering from severe wasting was already on the rise prior to the conflict.

What is ‘severe wasting’?

Severe wasting is the most apparent and dangerous form of malnutrition. It’s accompanied by a repeated bout of illness that weaken a child’s immune system. This implies that a common childhood sickness that most children would survive can be deadly.

There are about 13.5 million children under the age of five that are affected.

The issue had already worsened before Russia’s invasion because of lingering disruptions to supply chains resulting from Coronavirus-induced shutdowns of plants and ports.

According to UNICEF, at least two out of every three severely malnourished children do not have access to ready-to-use therapeutic food.

The UN organization urged governments to significantly increase aid to 23 “high burden” countries, as well as cash to meet children’s “immediate” needs.


Zurab Kvaratskhelia

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