Child malnutrition in Somalia at critical levels-UN

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NAIROBI, Sep 12 (Reuters) Child malnutrition in Somalia is at critical levels due to violence and lack of access for aid workers, the UN children's agency said today.

UNICEF said 83,000 children in central and southern parts of the Horn of Africa nation were suffering from malnutrition and 13,500 of those were severely malnourished and at risk of dying.

''Such critical levels in a region known as the country's breadbasket are alarming and point to a deteriorating humanitarian situation,'' the agency said in a statement.

''UNICEF is very concerned that their numbers might increase with continued civil strife, limited humanitarian access to these areas, food insecurity and a depressed economy.'' Clashes between Islamist-led insurgents and government forces backed by Ethiopian troops have raged since January, when a sharia court group that had ruled most of the south for six months was ousted from the capital Mogadishu.

REUTERS CS KP1352

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