A recent report by UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, says that in the Middle East and North Africa around 34 million children under the age of five are living in food poverty.

3 in 5 children in the Middle East and North Africa, 34 million in total, are living with severe food poverty.

That’s according to a new report by UNICEF entitled Child Food Poverty: Nutrition Deprivation in Early Childhood, which analyses the consequences and causes of food deprivation among the world’s youngest children.

The report notes that around 181 million children worldwide under the age of 5 are experiencing severe child food poverty, making them up to 50 per cent more likely to experience a life-threatening form of malnutrition.

The consequences of severe food poverty

The report also highlights the compounding effects of inequality, conflict and climate crises.

It says that persistent protracted crises, ongoing conflicts and economic instability have a significant impact on children’s access to nutritious and diverse foods. It estimates that about half of the children in severe food poverty receive only starchy products along with dairy or breast milk, reflecting a very poor diet.

Fewer than 10% of these children eat fruits and vegetables, according to UNICEF. Less than 5 per cent of people eat 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 per cent more likely to experience some severe form of malnutrition.”

Source: vaticannews.va