NEW YORK, October 4, 2021– âExcellencies and colleagues, on behalf of UNICEF, it is a pleasure to be here with you today. Thank you to the governments of the Dominican Republic, Ireland, Norway and Sweden, as well as our partner United Nations agencies for convening this important meeting to discuss famine prevention and elimination.
âThe world is facing a crisis of malnutrition that is getting worse every day. The converging forces of growing poverty, inequality, climate change, conflict and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic threaten the lives of millions of children. In vulnerable communities around the world, rates of child malnutrition and food insecurity are increasing.
âThe recent crises in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen have pushed food, nutrition and health systems to the brink of collapse.
âChildren are most at risk in situations of severe food insecurity and famine. Children under five are more likely to be severely malnourished and could die without treatment. consequences of poor physical growth and brain development.
âUNICEF figures show that before the pandemic, 47 million children under the age of five suffered from wasting, the most severe form of malnutrition. 9 million more children could suffer from acute malnutrition by 2022.
âOur efforts to prevent and respond to famine must prioritize the health, well-being and protection of children. This means taking the following key actions:
âFirst, we need to support responses that include, but go beyond, food aid. Preventing famine requires both early action and interventions that attack the underlying drivers. This means strengthening the systems that support the well-being of families and communities – health care, education, water, sanitation and social protection No intervention has the power to prevent food and nutrition crises from occurring. turn into famines, our response must therefore be multisectoral while remaining focused on what we know is working.
âSecond, we need to increase investments in longer-term preventive approaches to tackle food and nutrition crises. This includes a commitment to pre-established funding so that humanitarian organizations can respond more quickly to emerging crises. sustainable food security Resources to prevent and respond to famines remain too responsive, too narrowly targeted and too short to allow governments and their partners to implement a rapid and effective response.
âFinally, we must recognize that famines are often caused in part by conflict. We must end impunity for denial of humanitarian access and work to address grievances of inequity, exclusion and marginalization that are at the root of many conflicts today. If we are to protect children, women and their communities from the ravages of famine, we must invest in peacebuilding, and this must include the participation of young people.
âI hope that through our dialogue here today, we can inspire stronger collective action to prevent and end famine. Together, we can make a lasting difference between life and death for vulnerable children around the world.
UNICEF New York
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