|Dec. 13, 2017 -- The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned on Tuesday that at least 400,000 children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are severely malnourished and at risk of dying in 2018.
The dire situation in the Kasai region of the country has largely been caused by violence, mass displacement and reduced agricultural production over the past 18 months, UNICEF said in a press release.
While the security situation has stabilized in parts of the region and some displaced populations have begun to return to their homes and communities, humanitarian conditions remain critical, it said.
The violence and displacement of 1.4 million people in the Kasai region has led to food shortages, with two-thirds of households unable to work their land to grow crops. Severe food insecurity is now affecting large parts of the region, and conditions are not expected to improve before June 2018, because the planting seasons in 2017 were lost.
Health facilities have also been devastated, making it more difficult to provide medical treatment and care for severely malnourished children. Approximately 220 health centers were destroyed, looted or damaged, leading to a weakening of the health delivery system, reduced access to health care and an increased risk in the spread of communicable diseases like measles, said UNICEF.
More than 750,000 children across the Kasai region are acutely malnourished, while 25 health zones in the region are now in a situation of nutritional crisis, said UNICEF