500,000 Afghan children affected by drought: Unicef

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Kabul, April 24 (IANS) Unicef announced on Tuesday that 500,000 Afghan children have been affected by a drought in the country.

Out of the country’s 34 provinces, 10 were worst hit where 20 to 30 per cent water sources are reportedly dry, threatening the lives of about 1 million people, Xinhua news agency quoted Unicef as saying in a statement.

An additional 2 million people could feel its effects over the coming months.

“These areas have pre-existing high rates of malnutrition. Without adequate nutritious food and safe water for drinking, as well as for hygiene and sanitation, children’s health will only worsen,” the statement said.

The impact of the drought couldn’t have come at a worse time, as cases of severe acute malnutrition, or seasonal malnutrition, are on the rise by about 25 per cent.

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Some 1.6 million children and 443,000 pregnant and lactating women suffer from malnutrition across Afghanistan, according to the statement.

“The priority is to prevent the situation from deteriorating, by responding to the needs of children and families in the worst affected areas,” said Adele Khodr, Unicef’s Afghanistan Representative.

The Unicef estimate that emergency nutrition assistance is needed for 92,000 Afghan children and 8,500 pregnant and lactating women.

Between July and December 2018, some 121,000 acutely malnourished children under five and 33,000 pregnant and lactating women could need life-saving nutrition services.

–IANS

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