16 million children in the Middle East and North Africa are malnourished

More than 16 million children under the age of 5 are malnourished in the Middle East and North Africa because of conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Sudan, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Sunday .

In a statement, the organization condemned the "appalling impact of conflicts" in the four countries. "Despite some improvements, child nutrition in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since 2000 is worsening or heading into a recession, " she said .

"Around 11 million children are chronically or severely malnourished, including more than 7 million stunted and 3.7 million severely malnourished . "

She explained that "children suffering from severe malnutrition are 11 times more likely to die than their peers who are well-nourished . "

"About one-third of all pregnant and lactating women in northwestern Syria are anemic, with serious consequences for childbirth and physical and mental development in children, " she said .

"More children are not eating healthy, undernourished or overweight in a number of countries in the region, " said UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Ted Shiban .

"Children from the poorest and most marginalized communities represent the largest share of all malnourished children, leading to continued poverty generation after generation . "

"Low-value staple foods, sugary drinks, food fortification policies and food labeling and marketing practices have failed to provide healthy meals for children, whether in poor rural areas or in cities in high-income countries, " he said .

UNICEF called for action, including "imposing strict standards for minimum food quality, improving labeling and restricting the marketing of snacks and unhealthy junk food with low nutritional value . "


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