425,000 children suffering from extreme poverty, malnutrition in Eritrea – UN

26 July 2004
A girl pours water, camp in Eritrea

Death rates are rising among more than 400,000 children in Eritrea living in extreme poverty due to the prolonged drought and the aftermath of the war with Ethiopia, with many youngsters under five suffering acute malnutrition, according to a new United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report.

Death rates are rising among more than 400,000 children in Eritrea living in extreme poverty due to the prolonged drought and the aftermath of the war with Ethiopia, with many youngsters under five suffering acute malnutrition, according to a new United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report.

The agency called for an additional $3.8 million to fund health, nutrition, water and sanitation projects and to support children displaced by the crisis in the East African country for the rest of the year.

Half of all families are dependent on women who are themselves experiencing malnutrition because of food shortages. With 425,000 children under the age of 14 affected, child mortality rates have risen to 15 per 100,000 per day in some areas due to the extreme water shortages, according to the Eritrean health ministry.

UNICEF says there is evidence that more children are living on the streets in urban areas where there are similar food shortages. In two months, the Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission had only been able to provide flour to 100,000 people.

UNICEF is supporting 30,000 malnourished children with supplementary food and providing 30 therapeutic feeding centres with supplies and equipment. Some 35,000 people are receiving water by truck but much more is required.

Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a two-and-a-half-year war from 1998 that claimed tens of thousands of lives. A UN peacekeeping mission currently operates in the area, and both countries have been warned to end the stalemate to avoid devastating consequences for their people.

 

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