Bamako — SOME 165 000 children's lives and futures are in danger as the continuing violence, instability and displacement worsens the nutrition crisis in Mali. Research by children's rights groups and humanitarian agencies indicate the rate of acute malnutrition among children aged under five has reached critical levels in the conflict-affected areas of Timbuktu and Gao, while the national rate remains extremely high. The survey shows acute malnutrition of children in Timbuktu has risen to 15,7 percent and in Gao to 15,2 percent. Serious levels of acute malnutrition were also recorded in the regions of Kayes (14,2 percent) and Taoudéni (14,3 percent). The national rate is 10,7 percent. "Behind these figures are the lives of the most vulnerable and forgotten girls and boys in Mali," said United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) representative Lucia Elmi. She called for the provision of life-saving treatment to shield the children from risk. "At the same time, we need to invest in the critical first 1000 days of the lives of children to reduce the risk of acute malnutrition from occurring in the first place." Since the 2012 political and security crisis in Mali, violence and instability have led to displacements and disruption of social services in the north of the country. This has detrimental impact on the nutritional status of the most vulnerable children. Limited access to water and sanitation as well as childhood diseases like diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections and malaria have aggravated the situation.
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