Filipino children suffer from malnutrition in conflict
Prolonged displacement form homes drives urgency for increased aid
One of the lingering after effects of the fighting in the southern Philippines is the number of children who have been displaced from their homes, subsisting on sub-par meals. The United nations now says that many children in the Southern Philippines are under-nourished and malnourished, and that food aid is desperately needed in these areas.
65,000 people are still displaced following armed conflict last September between government troops and a breakaway faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Many are living in overcrowded centers with poor sanitation.
Working under the U.N.'s cluster system that coordinates humanitarian organizations, officials have noted an increase both in severe acute malnutrition, also known as SAM or severe wasting) and moderate acute malnutrition, also known as MAM or wasting. The period included the two weeks from 16 to 30 November.
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Officials say that SAM was detected in 9.36 percent of children, which was an increase of one percentage point from two weeks ago. MAM cases have risen to 11.5 percent from 11.1 percent amongst under fives at the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, Cawa-Cawa Shoreline and Zamboanga City National High School West displacement camps.
SAM is a sometimes fatal condition that can be a direct cause of child death. It is also an underlying cause for many preventable diseases that can lead to death.
Zamboanga Sam rates is below the threshold of 10 percent that is considered a nutritional emergency. Aid workers say it remains a strident concern.
"It is already a cause for worry considering the environment (poor hygiene practices, sanitation), the feeding and health care practices, population density," Amina Lim, regional program coordinator for UNICEF said in an email.
Many of the displaced people lack knowledge on the importance of nutrition and are unaware of the issues surrounding malnutrition, she says.
The relocation of displaced people from overflowing evacuation centers proceeds slowly. There is a lack of sites, according to the United Nations. The refugees are expected to remain in camps for the next six months and "humanitarian assistance will need to be sustained," it added.
As of December 9, a U.N. appeal for $24.5 million to respond to the crisis in Zamboanga has received only 15 percent funding.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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