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Iraqi children go hungry

5th March 2007

Experts say Iraq's children are increasingly suffering from malnutrition on top of the effects of the continuing violence in their country.

iraqichildren

About one in 10 children under five in Iraq are underweight, and one in five are short for their age, according to UNICEF figures. That points to a total of 4.5 million malnourished kids across the country, experts say.

Many more are believed to be lacking essential vitamins and minerals; the basic chemical building blocks for a growing body and mind.

Poverty and insecurity are blamed for the lack of food. Violence and constant displacement of refugees mean food handouts often don't reach recipients.

Iraq also had a low breastfeeding rate, standing at 12% before the war, experts said.

The widespread use of powdered milk meant diarrhoea was also a major risk in the absence of safe water and basic sanitation, they added.

Dr Mayssun Abdel-Rahman, a paediatrician at Baghdad's Children Teaching Hospital, said the country's health system would have crumbled by now without the support of UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

She said hundreds of children were dying from easily cured ailments, like diarrhoea and undernutrition.

The poorer rural areas, especially southern Iraq, have always had the poorest nutrition rates. But those have spread to include the whole country since the war.


 

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