Tue Feb 21, 2017 02:55PM
A woman holds her 11-month-old grandson who suffers from acute malnutrition and respiratory distress at a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Aweil, South Sudan, October 11, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
A woman holds her 11-month-old grandson who suffers from acute malnutrition and respiratory distress at a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Aweil, South Sudan, October 11, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned that some 1.4 million children suffering from severe malnutrition could die this year from famine across the Horn of Africa.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a statement on Tuesday that the international community should move quickly to prevent the famine in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

The UN official also warned against recurrence of east African drought that left 260,000 people starved to death across Somalia and elsewhere in 2011.

"Time is running out for more than a million children," the statement read, adding, "We can still save many lives. The severe malnutrition and looming famine are largely man-made. Our common humanity demands faster action. We must not repeat the tragedy of the 2011 famine in the Horn of Africa."

UNICEF has said that at least 270,000 children in South Sudan are suffering from malnutrition.

The international charity Save the Children warned on Monday that over 1 million children in South Sudan were at risk of starving.

Famine was formally declared on Monday in parts of South Sudan, which has plunged into an all-out ethnic-conflict and civil war since 2013.

UNICEF figures show at least 185,000 children were expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in Somalia this year. However, the figure was likely to rise to 270,000 in the next few months.

Another 462,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition in Yemen, where two years of Saudi aggression have claimed the lives of more than 10,000 civilian and caused destruction of infrastructure.

A Yemeni infant suffering from malnutrition receives treatment at a medical center in Bani Hawat, on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, January 9, 2017.

The number of children with acute malnutrition is expected to reach 450,000 this year in militancy-riddled areas of northeastern Nigeria. Some remote areas of Nigeria's Borno state are already affected by famine since late last year and the disaster is likely to continue as aid agencies are unable to reach those in need.

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The World Food Program has said that more than 20 million lives are at risk in the next six months across the region.

The international organizations and aid groups say people are already starving to death in all the four countries.