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Charity warns malnutrition threatens 4.7 mln children in East Africa 

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- An international charity warned on Monday that 4.7 million children across East Africa risk dropping out of school this year due to malnutrition arising from displacement sparked by drought and conflict.

David Wright, Regional Director for Save the Children in East and Southern Africa, told journalists in Nairobi that about 90,000 children drop out of school weekly in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan, which translates to 12,000 children abandoning studies each day.

“No child should miss out on their right to education, so it is especially crucial to keep schools open during drought because they offer a perfect opportunity for food, water and vaccines to enable them learn, be safe and realize their dreams,” Wright told journalists in Nairobi.

“We urgently appeal for funding to help keep children in school and take schooling to the children who have already been forced to drop out,” he said during the release of the report in Nairobi.

Wright said this year calls for increased humanitarian assistance in order to meet the persistent and diverse needs of children affected by drought for their survival, learning and protection.

He drew attention to donors, governments and all stakeholders to address food insecurity and tackle the growing nutritional crisis and ensure children are able to survive and thrive.

“Children should receive uninterrupted quality learning even in crisis and protected from all forms of violence and exploitation,” Wright said.

Save the Children Country Director for Kenya, Wang Le, said only three out of ten children are enrolled in school in the drought-prone areas, adding that schools close due to lack of water and the few children enrolled dropping out to migrate with their families in search of the commodity and pasture.

Her Somalia counterpart, Timothy Bishop, stated already three million children are already out of school, with 1.2 million of them suffering from malnutrition.

Ekin Ogutogullari, Country Director for Ethiopia said over 600 schools have closed since February 2017 because of drought, pushing close to 400,000 children out of lessons, which translates to about 50 schools shutting down a month.

Deirdre Keogh, who oversees South Sudan operations, noted that malnutrition has soured, especially among children in Africa’s youngest nation where more than 1.1 million children under five years are forecast to be malnourished in 2018, double the number from the same time last year and added that more children than ever are out of school.

Save the Children’s global report on protecting children in conflict, conducted by the Peace Research Institute, will be launched on Feb. 15 ahead of the Munich Security Conference.



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