Food prices have risen sharply this year due to the war in Ukraine, drought tied to climate change in some countries and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the UN children's agency.Almost 8 million children under the age of 5 are at risk of dying from severe malnutrition, UNICEF reported on Thursday.
Most of these children are in 15 countries suffering from acute food and medical aid shortages. These crisis-hit countries include Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Haiti and Yemen.
Undernutrition causes weakened immune systems, which increases the risk of death among children under 5 by up to 11 times compared to well-nourished children.
The UN children's agency report said malnutrition has impacted an additional 260,000 children since the beginning of 2022. Food prices have been rising sharply due to the war in Ukraine and persistent drought due to climate change in some parts of the world. The ongoing economic impact of COVID-19 has also contributed to the rise of cases of malnutrition among children, said the report.
‘No time to waste’
UNICEF said a $1.2 billion (€1.13 billion) aid package is urgently needed to address the looming crisis.
"World leaders gathering in Germany for the G7 Ministerial have a small window of opportunity to act to save these children's lives,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said. "There is no time to waste. Waiting for famine to be declared is waiting for children to die.”