One out of two refugee children in Ethiopia undernourished: UNHCR

ADDIS ABABA, March 14 (Xinhua) -- One out of two refugee children in Ethiopia is undernourished, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has disclosed.

The UNHCR, in its latest publication titled "Critical Gaps in Nutrition Services for Refugees in Ethiopia" issued Thursday, revealed that analysis of its nutrition study conducted in 21 refugee camps and sites across Ethiopia showed that one out of two refugee children, aged between 6 months to 59 months, is undernourished.

Data from UNHCR show that some 95,334 out of 203,371, accounting for 46.9 percent, displayed at least one form of malnutrition, which includes stunting, underweight and micronutrient deficiency.

It said that despite limitations, mothers provide good nutrition start to infants below 6 months by enabling the early initiation of breastfeeding. The onset of acute malnutrition with poor to no complementary diets for young refugee children after six months leads to acute malnutrition and stunting, which are irreversible.

Noting that household food security deteriorated in 2023, the UN Refugee Agency said multiple major shocks are likely to have a direct impact on nutrition outcomes. Amid the difficult situation, the UNHCR said refugees were forced to skip meals, rely on less preferred food, reduce consumption by adults so that children eat, live in debt, and engage in illegal and risky actions like theft, early marriages, child labor, mining in some locations, and transactional sex to meet household food needs.

According to the UNHCR, Ethiopia hosts over 823,000 refugees and asylum seekers predominantly from South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea, with 47 percent of the refugees being women and girls, while 59 percent are children.

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