The European Commission and UNICEF Aim to Prevent Mass Child Death in the Sahel

The European Commission and UNICEF are again combining their efforts to combat severe malnutrition in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa. The aim is to provide life-saving medical treatment and ready to use therapeutic food rations for an estimated 437,000 severely malnourished children under the age of five in seven Sahel countries.

DAKAR, SENEGAL (May 29, 2013) - The European Commission and UNICEF are again combining their efforts to combat severe malnutrition in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa. The aim is to provide life-saving medical treatment and ready to use therapeutic food rations for an estimated 437,000 severely malnourished children under the age of five in seven Sahel countries.

In addition, the funding will be used to train 64,000 outreach workers who will identify children at risk at an earlier stage while promoting good health practices among communities. For the achievement of these purposes, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) and UNICEF signed a financial agreement worth €10 million.

“This generous contribution by the European Commission is very timely,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “We are now at the time when we see increasing numbers of children in the treatment centers and many young lives are at risk. We are determined that our response will save lives while helping communities and families to look after themselves in the future so that the need for crisis interventions is reduced.”

"The nutrition situation remains alarming across the region. Despite good harvests in 2012, some 10 million people are still facing shortages and about 1.4 million children under five are still expected to need treatment for severe acute malnutrition this year," said Cees Wittebrood, Head of the East, West and Southern Africa, Indian Ocean Unit at the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department. "The European Union is very aware of the immediate need to provide help to address the urgent needs and to help build resilience."

Last year UNICEF, governments and other humanitarian agencies, with the support of donors such as ECHO, treated more than 927,000 children by supporting 5,100 health centers and outreach programs in an effort which has been recognized as the biggest of its kind ever mounted in the region.

About UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

About European Commission's Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO)

The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) funds relief operations for victims of natural disasters and conflicts outside the European Union. Aid is channelled impartially, straight to victims, regardless of their race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, nationality or political affiliation. ECHO is among UNICEF’s largest humanitarian donors. In 2012 alone, it provided over 70 million Euros for UNICEF’s projects worldwide to support children.

For additional information, please contact:

Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org