The U.N. children’s fund warns tens of thousands of malnourished children are at great risk in Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan, which are on the brink of famine.

UNICEF reports an estimated 4.7 million children in the three cholera-stricken countries are malnourished. Of these, UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac tells VOA, more than one million are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

“Let me remind you that a child who is suffering from severe acute malnutrition are nine times more likely to die of disease than a well-nourished child,” he said. “So, having cholera and diarrhea in countries where so many children are so fragile because of malnutrition among other things because of such a bad access to safe water is extremely worrying.”

Sudan outbreak

UNICEF says it also is extremely worried about an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea in Sudan, where the Federal Ministry of Health reports more than 20,000 cases of the disease, including over 400 deaths.

Boulierac says the disease has spread to 14 of 18 states and children account for more than 20 percent of the affected population.

“The situation in White Nile State, which is in central Sudan, is deeply worrying, since it is the most affected with 7,200 reported cases and since it has almost 100,000 refugees living in camps,” he said.

UNICEF says it needs access, security and more money to contain cholera and acute watery diarrhea in all four countries. It says aid operations must be scaled up. Malnourished children must receive special life-saving medication, therapeutic feeding and have access to safe drinking water.

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