More than two million children are "in need of humanitarian aid" in Niger, a country destabilized by a recent coup and undermined by jihadist violence, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday. , in a statement sent to AFP.
"More than two million children have been affected by the crisis and are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance," the organization said.
"Before the recent civil unrest and political instability in Niger", UNICEF already estimated in 2023 "at 1.5 million the number of children under 5 suffering from malnutrition, including at least 430,000 suffering from deadliest form of malnutrition".
According to UNICEF, these figures may increase "if food prices continue to rise and an economic downturn hits families, households and incomes".
In addition, "electricity shortages" - already frequent in Niger and multiplied by the sanctions imposed on the country by the Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS), in response to the coup - affect the cold chain and can compromise the effectiveness of "infant vaccines" stored in health structures.
UNICEF recalls that it "continues to provide humanitarian assistance to children throughout the country". However, it warns that its "vital supplies remain blocked at the various entry points of the country", such as at the border with Benin.
The UN organization “launches an urgent appeal” to the “actors” of the crisis to guarantee access to Niger for humanitarian workers and supplies, and asks “donors to protect humanitarian funds from multilateral or unilateral sanctions”.
Niger, destabilized by a coup on July 26, is one of the poorest countries in the world and depends economically and energetically on foreign countries. It has also been undermined for several years by jihadist attacks in the west and south-east.