UNICEF Reports 34 Million Children Under Five in MENA Face Severe Food Poverty

UNICEF Reports 34 Million Children Under Five in MENA Face Severe Food Poverty

New York - According to a recent report by UNICEF, the UN Children's Fund, about 34 million children under the age of five in the Middle East and North Africa are living in severe food poverty. This startling figure represents 3 in 5 children in the region.

The report, entitled "Child Food Poverty: Nutrition Deprivation in Early Childhood," analyzes the causes and consequences of food deprivation among the world's youngest children. It reveals that around 181 million children worldwide under the age of five are experiencing severe child food poverty, which makes them up to 50 percent more likely to suffer from life-threatening malnutrition.

Consequences of Severe Food Poverty
The report highlights the compounding effects of inequality, conflict, and climate crises on children's nutrition. Persistent crises, ongoing conflicts, and economic instability significantly impact children's access to nutritious and diverse foods. About half of the children in severe food poverty receive only starchy products along with dairy or breast milk, reflecting a very poor diet.

UNICEF notes that fewer than 10 percent of these children eat fruits and vegetables. Less than 5 percent consume nutrient-rich foods such as eggs, fish, poultry, or meat.

“Children living in severe food poverty,” said UNICEF Director-General Catherine Russell in a press release, “are children on the brink. Right now it is a reality for millions of young children and can have an irreversible negative impact on their survival, growth, and brain development."

"Children who consume only two food groups a day, for example, rice and some milk, are up to 50 percent more likely to experience some severe form of malnutrition," Russell added.

This report underscores the urgent need for global action to address child food poverty and ensure that all children have access to the nutritious food necessary for their development and well-being.

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