Every single minute, the global hunger crisis is pushing one child into life-threatening, severe malnutrition, according to the UN Children's Fund Unicef.
It called for $1.2 billion to meet the urgent needs of eight million children at risk of death from severe wasting, mainly in African nations, such as Burkina Faso, Chad, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and also Afghanistan and Haiti.
The UN agency Thursday said the number of desperately hungry children suffering from severe wasting continued to grow.
Between January and June, that number increased by well over 250,000, from 7.67 million to 7.93 million children. This comes as the price of ready-to-use food to treat severe wasting soared by 16% in recent weeks, owing to a sharp rise in the cost of raw ingredients.
Unicef said the price spike left up to 600,000 more children without access to life-saving treatment and at risk of death.
"We are now seeing the tinderbox of conditions for extreme levels of child wasting begin to catch fire," Unicef Executive Director Catherine Russell said.
"Food aid is critical, but we cannot save starving children with bags of wheat. We need to reach these children now with therapeutic treatment before it is too late."
Soaring food prices driven by the war in Ukraine, persistent drought due to climate change in some countries, at times combined with conflict, and the ongoing economic impact of Covid-19, are driving up food and nutrition insecurity worldwide, resulting in catastrophic levels of severe malnutrition in children under five.
Within the 15 countries highlighted as most at risk by Unicef, the agency estimates that at least 40 million children are severely nutrition insecure, meaning they are not receiving the bare minimum diverse diet they need to grow and develop in early childhood.
Also, 21 million children are severely food insecure, meaning they lack access to enough food to meet minimum food needs, leaving them at high risk of severe wasting.