NEW YORK, 03 August 2005 - UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah arrives in Niger today, where she will survey the needs of hundreds of thousands of children and assess the UNICEF efforts to assist children suffering from severe and moderate under-nutrition.
Ms. Salah will meet with children, their families, community leaders, NGOs, and senior government officials. She will also meet with other UN officials.
"For our relief efforts to be the best they can be I feel I have to see what's really happening on the ground," Salah said. "I want all the people who have suffered so much, and all those who are working so hard on the relief effort to know that UNICEF considers this an urgent priority."
Ms. Salah arrives in Niamey on Wednesday 04 August and will tour southern portions of the country. Throughout her travel Ms. Salah will be available for phone and satellite interviews to discuss the state of the relief effort and the situation of children.
UNICEF Niger has issued an additional emergency appeal for US$14.6 million to care for 32,000 children suffering from severe under-nutrition and 160,000 children suffering from moderate under-nutrition in Niger and to help stop a deadly cycle of starvation. UNICEF issued an appeal for Niger in April of $1.35 million, so with this request for funding, the total stands at nearly $16 million.
3.6 million people in Niger have been made vulnerable by the current crisis - including 800,000 children under five years of age. Admissions at UNICEF-supported therapeutic feeding centers in Niger are rising, with more than twice as many children requiring care than during the same time period last year.
Without immediate and large-scale action, the food crisis is threatening to spread throughout the region, including neighbouring countries like Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. UN teams in these countries are closely monitoring the situation to help prevent the Niger crisis from repeating itself elsewhere in the region.
For interviews and other details from the ground, contact UNICEF press officers:
Niger: Kent Page, Regional Communication
Officer; tel: (227) 722-840 or cell (227) 532-129; Satellite phone +88216-5119-1345
Geneva: Damien Personnaz, Communication Officer; tel: +41 22 909 5716 or mob: +41 79 216 94 01
New York: Gordon Weiss, Emergency Communication Officer, 1-212-326-7426
Note to broadcasters: B-roll footage of affected children in Niger is available free of charge at www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef