A young boy from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: Jerome Delay / AP

There are at least 400,000 severely malnourished children under 5 years old living in the Democratic Republic of Congo who could die within months without emergency intervention, UNICEF warned today.

The gritty details: After 18 months of conflict, displaced people and poor harvests, these children in the Kasai region are the most vulnerable in a population of 750,000 acutely malnourished children in what some say could become the "biggest emergency of 2018."

"With so many humanitarian crises worldwide, the situation in DRC is at risk of being ignored while it develops into the biggest emergency of 2018." — Mohammed Abdiker, director of operations and emergencies at the International Organisation for Migration, said on Tuesday.

Driving the news: Violence, food insecurity and devastated health facilities have created a desperate climate in the Kasai region.

  • There have been ongoing fights between local rebel groups and government troups in the Kasai region after tribal chieftain and rebel Kamwina Nsapu was killed last year, Yahoo reports.
  • Due to this unrest as well as the everyday, ongoing violence in the African country, 3.9 million people have been displaced in DRC, according to the UN refugee report.
  • In addition, there's been a year and a half of poor agriculture — and having missed planting season, there is not likely to be a harvest in June.
  • About 220 health centers were destroyed, looted or damaged in Kasai, leading to reduced access to health care and an increased risk in the spread of communicable diseases, UNICEF says.

The big picture: DRC joins a growing list of humanitarian crises, including growing famine and disease in Yemen.

To help, donate to Unicef, Save the Children or Action Against Hunger.

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