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Quarter of a million children in need in northern Mozambique, says UNICEF

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Around 250,000 children displaced by an extremist insurgency in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province face the risk of disease as the rainy season sets in, the UN children’s agency UNICEF said.

Around 2,400 people, more than half of them civilians, have died since October 2017, when a shadowy jihadist group began its campaign in the gas-rich province, according to a tally compiled by ACLED, a US NGO.

The government says 570,000 people have fled their homes.

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“In less than two years, children and families in Cabo Delgado have faced a devastating cyclone, flooding, drought, socioeconomic hardship linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and conflict,” UNICEF executive director, Henrietta Fore, said in a statement issued late Tuesday.

“As conditions in the province deteriorate further – especially with the start of rainy season – water, sanitation and health care systems are under increasing strain.”

UNICEF pointed to the risk of diarrhea, a disease that is easily curable and preventable, but often fatal to young children if left untreated.

Two out of every five children in the northern province are already chronically malnourished “and more cases of severe acute malnutrition are being detected amongst the displaced population,” the statement said.

UNICEF is appealing for $52.8 million (43.3 million euros) to meet the most pressing humanitarian needs in Mozambique in 2021, of which $30 million would be earmarked for Cabo Delgado.

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