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UNICEF has doubled its appeal for funds today to £153 million to help children affected by the food crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa.

At least 1.1 million children in the Sahel will suffer from severe malnutrition over the course of this year. The biggest upsurge in children needing help will be over the coming three months because the region is now in the driest and harshest period of the year.

Continuing conflict in Mali, which has forced 170,000 people from their homes and into three neighbouring countries, is creating new demands and challenges. A further 167,000 people have been displaced within the country.

Reflecting the need for a fully integrated response, the new total requirements for UNICEF of £153 million for 2012 takes into account the need for responses to the nutrition crisis, the Mali emergency and the threat of cholera and other epidemics. 

UNICEF aims to address the most pressing needs, including preventing epidemics through vaccination campaigns, and reducing the risk of malaria through distribution of bed nets.

So far UNICEF has secured £59 million for its emergency response. Nearly a quarter of a million children under the age of five across the nine affected countries have already received life-saving treatment for severe malnutrition during the first four months of this year.

“There is no doubt the money given earlier this year has helped us considerably to be prepared and save lives,” said UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Manuel Fontaine.

“Across the Sahel we are dealing with multiple needs to save lives and help children, and the Mali crisis has only put more children in danger. So far we have received money primarily for the immediate nutrition response. But the lack of funds for other vital work prevents us from doing all that we can for children and their parents in what is their time of greatest need,” he said.

The United Nations says about 18 million people are affected by a drought and food crisis in the nine affected countries.

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Note to Editors:

The Sahel nutrition crisis and UNICEF’s emergency response covers the entire territories of Burkina Faso, Gambia (which was included earlier this year), Mali, Mauritania and Niger; the Sahel belt of Chad and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal. 

For more information, please contact:

Ju-Lin Tan, Media Manager, UNICEF UK, 020 7375 6069, 07814 549 071, 


UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights in more than 190 countries. As champion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF works to help every child realise their full potential. Together with our partners, UNICEF delivers health care, nutrition, education and protection to children in urgent need, while working with governments to ensure they deliver on their promise to protect and promote the rights of every child. UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations from individuals, governments, institutions and corporations, and is not funded by the UN budget. For more information, please visit