Thursday December 12, 2019

13 Million in Congo Suffer from ‘Hunger’ and ‘Malnutrition’: UN

U.N. is appealing for $1.65 billion in humanitarian aid for the country this year - more than double the $700 million plus that it raised last year to help 8.5 million people

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FILE - A Congolese boy has his arm measured for malnutrition in a clinic run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres in the remote town of Dubie in Congo's southeastern Katanga province, March 18, 2006. VOA

The number of people needing humanitarian aid in Congo has increased dramatically in the past year to 13 million and “hunger and malnutrition have reached the highest level on record,” the head of the U.N. children’s agency said Monday.

UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore told a news conference that 7.5 million of those needing aid are children, including 4 million suffering from acute malnutrition and over 1.4 million from severe acute malnutrition “which means that they are in imminent risk of death.”

U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who just returned from a visit to Congo with Fore, said the U.N. is appealing for $1.65 billion in humanitarian aid for the country this year – more than double the $700 million plus that it raised last year to help 8.5 million people.

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U.N. is appealing for $1.65 billion in humanitarian aid for the country this year. Pixabay

He said the worsening humanitarian situation is the result of economic stresses including volatility in commodity prices and the turbulent political situation surrounding December’s elections, compounded by violence, increased displacement and the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak. Fore added that farmers fleeing with their families and drought in some areas also contributed.

She said the difficulty is that last year’s U.N. appeal was only half funded, and if that same amount is contributed this year it will only be a quarter of this year’s appeal, “and the needs are immense.”

Fore cited more grim statistics: 2 million people were newly displaced last year; 7.3 million children are out of school; 300,000 children die each year before their fifth birthday; 3 in 10 women are reported to be victims of sexual violence; and in January alone there were 7,000 cases of measles and 3,500 cases of cholera.

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UNICEF and its partners are providing psycho-social support, food and material assistance to the children, she said. Pixabay

Congo’s Health Ministry said Monday that the Ebola epidemic has now exceeded 1,000 cases, with a death toll of 629.

Fore said about 30 percent of the cases are children, and UNICEF has identified about 1,000 children who have been orphaned or left unaccompanied while their parents are isolated in Ebola treatment wards.

UNICEF and its partners are providing psycho-social support, food and material assistance to the children, she said.

In the major city of Bunia close to the epidemic’s center, Fore said U.N. and Red Cross officials visited a kindergarten where Ebola survivors who cannot get the virus were caring for orphaned and unaccompanied children.

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Congo’s Health Ministry said Monday that the Ebola epidemic has now exceeded 1,000 cases, with a death toll of 629. Pixabay

The U.N. officials also visited Goma, Beni and Butembo and the capital Kinshasa where Lowcock said they had “extremely constructive talks” with Congo’s new president, Felix Tshisekedi.

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“We were encouraged by the new president” who said he would like to work closely with the U.N. on humanitarian issues and problems related to the millions of displaced people, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs said.

“Congo is a country where progress is possible,” Lowcock said, pointing to lower infant mortality, more children in school and Kinshasa becoming a modern African capital. (VOA)

Next Story

Smoking and Stress Lead to Greying of Hair: Experts

Stress, smoking cause early greying of hair

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Too much of stress can increase ageing. Pixabay

With your first grey strand comes ageing, but it could also be a sign of too much stress, say experts.

“Premature greying can be a sign of excessive stress as it is one of the significant causes; under pressure, one constricts the blood vessels hampering the healthy flow of nutrients to the scalp resulting in hair fall and greying.

“Stress also reduces oxygen supply to the scalp as breathing, and is also one of the major causes of aging and premature greying, dull, and scanty hair,” Rajni Ohri, Founder, Ohria Ayurveda said.

Although ageing is natural, and should be accepted with grace, one cannot control the process of ageing and worrying about it will only further stress.

Mohit Narang, Skincare expert, AVON says that greying of hair can also happen due to smoking. “People who smoke regularly have higher chances of premature greying, as can a lack of nutrition. A diet deficient in vitamins and minerals can lead to early greying.”

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Along with stress, smoking can also cause greying of hair strands. Lifetime Stock

How to tackle the menace of premature greying of hair?

Ayurvedic hair oils are beneficial for slowing greying. If used regularly they delay greying even in old age. Ingredients that assist keeping the hair pigment intact are amla, onion seeds, bhringraj, henna, sesame, curry leaves.

Dried amla can be used to fight premature greying. Cut them into pieces and dry them in the sun; once dry, roast it in the pan and then mix with coconut oil. Apply the mixture on your hair overnight.

Apart from repairing natural hair color, onion juice also helps treat hair loss and thinning. For best results, mix onion juice with lemon juice. Apply the mixture evenly on the scalp and hair. Leave it on for 15- 25 minutes and then wash your hair with a mild shampoo. Make this your routine for at least two weeks.

Curry leaves darken your hair by restoring the natural melanin pigment so that hair becomes dark again. The leaves also help in preventing and treating as curry leaves are rich in Vitamin B and minerals like iodine, zinc and iron.

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Consume a nutritional diet rich in Vitamins B12, B9, Iron, Folic acid. Include amla, beetroot, green leafy vegetables and nuts like soaked almonds, anjeer, walnuts, and soaked sesame seeds.

Practice yoga for healthy blood flow to the scalp. Practice ‘Pranayam’ to keep the mind calm and relaxed.

Quit smoking, or at least reduce the instances of smoking. (IANS)