WEST AFRICA – The United Children Fund (UNICEF) has warned that a continuous increase in starvation is severely threatening children in the war-torn West African nation of Mali.  The UN agency says hunger and the lack of nutritional diet and supplement are acute.

According to authorities and international organizations in the area, new information and data from the Gao and Timbuktu regions confirm that an estimated 20 percent of children are said to be acutely malnourished at a “critical” level as per the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Nationwide in Mali, it is projected that about170,000 children are expected to encounter dire malnutrition in 2018.  Social workers and medical experts say this would be an increase of 23,000 the start of 2017.

The UN agency reports that the number of children under 5 who are affected in the region is “serious”, putting it at 15 percent.’

Lucia Elmi, the representative of UNICEF in Mali said, “We must provide life-saving treatment and ensure every one of these children can fully recover.”

Per the World Bank’s statistics, every 10th child born in Mali, one of the poorest nations in the world, dies prior to age 5.

Mali is a conflict-ridden nation with repeated violence and instability since 2012. UN aid agencies say a few years ago the acute malnutrition rate in Gao was set at nine percent.

The West African country witnessed widespread chaos following a military coup in 2012 that created a vacuum in the battle to curtail northern rebels.  Islamists took advantage of the 2012 military strife in draining and penetrating the country.

Consequently, the country appealed for external support and military assistance which has since been provided by the United Nations, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.  Despite foreign military involvement in the West African nation’s northern region, attacks from Islamic terrorists continues.