One million children at risk of life-threatening malnutrition in Sahel region
NEW YORK, April 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As malnutrition reaches emergency levels across the Sahel region of West and Central Africa affecting at least one million children, UNICEF partner UPS has sprung to action to provide transport for the first aerial shipment of lifesaving UNICEF supplies to Mauritania this year, a country within the affected region.
The UPS flight, departing from Cologne, Germany early yesterday morning contained 102,000 pounds of critical UNICEF relief supplies including nutrition, health, education, water, sanitation, and hygiene items.
UPS worked quickly with UNICEF to coordinate the shipment of relief items from various locations including UNICEF's Supply Center in Copenhagen, in addition to Madrid, Lier, and Toulouse for delivery to Nouakchott, Mauritania on Sunday, April 22. Flying in supplies dramatically reduces the delivery time to affected communities.
"UPS understands that during humanitarian emergencies, the need to move supplies quickly is essential and can mean the difference between life and death," said U.S. Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Caryl Stern. "We are extremely grateful that UPS has once again donated its expertise and services, this time to help UNICEF deliver lifesaving supplies to the one million children at risk in the Sahel region, and for their ongoing support in times of emergency."
UPS has consistently supported UNICEF's preparedness and emergency relief efforts, responding to the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 by offering volunteers, logistician experts, and transport services. They also donated a charter flight carrying 24 metric tons of critical UNICEF relief supplies last November from Copenhagen to Nairobi for children affected by the severe drought in the Horn of Africa.
"Logistics plays an incredibly vital role whenever a humanitarian crisis occurs, which is why UPS has lent its expertise for many years to bringing critical logistical support to areas of the world affected by disease, drought, and other disasters," said UPS International President Dan Brutto, a member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. "For example, we just completed a temperature-controlled move of flu vaccine from the U.S. to Laos. With this drought situation in the Sahel region, millions of lives are at stake and UPS is proud to be working with our partners at UNICEF to provide timely, life-saving supplies to the people of West and Central Africa."
An estimated 15 million people are affected by the drought in eight countries across the Sahel, including Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and northern Cameroon, Nigeria, and Senegal. UNICEF needs more than $60 million for immediate relief operations to save children's lives and prevent a humanitarian disaster from unfolding.
During a recent visit to the region, UNICEF's Executive Director Anthony Lake called for an urgent escalation of humanitarian efforts to bring about an end to the crisis. Women and children in the Sahel are suffering from the impact of multiple threats—poor harvests because of drought, high food prices, and insecurity in parts of the region. Due to recent unrest in Mali, approximately 200,000 people have been displaced to neighboring countries – including Mauritania – exacerbating the hunger crisis there.
In January and February, tens of thousands of children were treated for severe acute malnutrition at nutritional rehabilitation centers that are filling up fast with the start of the "lean season"—the period between harvests that is traditionally the worst time of the year in a harsh environment with difficult logistics.
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UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.
UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
SOURCE U.S. Fund for UNICEF