COVID-19: Over 10m children in Nigeria, 6 other countries face acute malnutrition in 2021, UNICEF warns

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An estimated 10.4 million children in seven countries, including Nigeria, will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement on Wednesday.,

“As 2021 approaches, UNICEF is deeply concerned for the health and well-being of 10.4 million children projected to suffer from acute malnutrition next year in those countries,” the statement said, citing the affected countries as  Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen.

UNICEF said ongoing insecurity in the DRC, socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and limited access to essential services will result in an estimated 3.3 million children, under five, who will suffer from acute malnutrition next year.

In Northeast Nigeria, more than 800,000 children are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition, including almost 300,000 who are estimated to be at imminent risk of death.

According to UNICEF, the highest number of children since 2013 – some 1.4 million – will face acute malnutrition in South Sudan next year, due to ongoing conflict, insecurity, as well as limited health care, water and hygiene services.

In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the number of malnourished children could increase by 21 per cent to a staggering 2.9 million amid conflict, displacement and climate shocks in these Central Sahel countries.

UNICEF also warned that more than 2 million children already suffer from acute malnutrition in Yemen and the figure is expected to rise in 2021.

UNICEF had earlier appealed  for more 1 billion dollars from donors to support nutrition programmes for children in fragile countries in 2021.

It also urged humanitarian actors and international donors to expand access and support for aid operations.

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Oyo State Chapter has advised worshippers in the state to adhere strictly to COVID-19 safety protocol directives by  the  government on the crossover night service.

The state Chairman, CAN, Apostle Joshua Akinyemiju, gave the advise in a statement on Wednesday in Ibadan.

Akinyemiju commended the state Gov. Seyi Makinde for giving approval that the Thursday crossover night worship to usher in 2021 be observed in the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the State Task Force on COVID-19 had on Tuesday, declared that the state government ruled out crossover services over curfew imposed by the Federal Government.

Makinde, however, endorsed the brief by Prof Temitope Alonge, the Chairman of the COVID-19 Taskforce Technical Team, on Wednesday, which reviewed the earlier pronouncement by the team and lifted the curfew.

Akinyemiju, who expressed delight at the decision of the governor, warned that worship centres must adhere strictly to the advisories and guidelines put in place to prevent the spread of the virus in the state.

“They should put on their face masks, provide washing hand basin as well as keep physical distancing in the worship centre.

“Every church leader in the state should please ensure that the crossover does not exceed 12:30 am.

He prayed that the governor would continue to drive the leadership of the state at a balance without error.