From: Reuters
Published September 22, 2004 12:00 AM

U.N. Warns of Malnutrition in Flood-Hit Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladeshi children and women face acute malnutrition after the worst floods in 15 years swept the impoverished country, the United Nations has warned.

The World Food Program and the United Nations Children's Fund said in a joint statement that without intervention, the number of malnourished children in flood affected areas could rise to 1 million within six to eight weeks.

"We are taking immediate steps to access the most vulnerable children and women to ensure basic health and nutrition as a life-saving priority," the statement quoted Morten Giersing, UNICEF representative in Bangladesh, as saying.

"This is also a critical time for over half a million pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers who face risk of serious malnutrition," the U.N. said.

Around 1,000 people died in Bangladesh in weeks of severe flooding in July and August. The South Asian nation was hit by another spell of record monsoon rain in September.

The flooding has left some 10 million of the country's 130 million people homeless, and health officials say diarrhea and pneumonia have killed 350 people, mostly children, and affected 330,000 since mid-July.

The U.N. said it was coordinating to make sure nutritional supplements and extra food rations reach young children and breastfeeding or pregnant women.

The damage caused by the floods, which swamped two-thirds of the country, was estimated at $7 billion, disaster management officials said.

WFP launched a $74 million operation last month to feed some 5 million flood-hit people for a year.

UNICEF has also launched a global appeal to raise $13.4 million in emergency aid.

Source: Reuters

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