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UNICEF launches first Ramadan fundraising campaign in Bangladesh

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UNICEF is launching a campaign to raise funds for malnourished children in Bangladesh in the Islamic month of Ramadan, the first such effort by the UN agency.

The drive is an appeal “to the growing and increasingly affluent middle classes who are more and more able to donate towards helping children in their own country,” reports citing a statement on Wednesday.

The Bangladesh economy is strong and after attaining lower-middle-income country status in 2015 it aims to become an upper-middle-income country by 2031. UNICEF noted that Bangladesh is now less reliant on foreign aid.

“The economic progress in Bangladesh has created enhanced opportunities for us to take care of the underprivileged section of our population, and to ensure that we leave no one behind. The success of Bangladesh needs to be reflected through the children, who are our future and who also depend on us for their education, healthcare and well-being,” said Masud Bin Momen, the foreign secretary of Bangladesh.

The UNICEF Ramadan fundraising campaign invites the "people in Bangladesh to let their good deeds echo for malnourished children around the country".

The agency says that Bangladesh has made impressive progress in addressing child malnutrition, with a reduction in stunting (low height for age) to 28 per cent in 2019 from 42 per cent in 2013. However, five million Bangladeshi children under five years of age still suffer from malnutrition.

Stunting, caused by chronic and recurring undernutrition, damages a child’s body and brain in irreversible ways. It worsens school and work performance and puts children at higher risk of infectious diseases.

Wasting, defined as someone having a low weight for their height, is another form of undernourishment that can be fatal. Lack of food and disease can lead to wasting, which is characterised by severe weight loss.

Children born to poor families are more likely to suffer from stunting and wasting, UNICEF said. These vulnerable children face even greater risks when they are caught in natural disasters like floods.

“There is no greater cause than championing children’s health, education and rights. This Ramadan, UNICEF invites the people of Bangladesh to join hands with UNICEF to help the most vulnerable children in their own country,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF representative to Bangladesh.

UNICEF, funded entirely through voluntary contributions, has worked in the Bangladesh region for over 70 years.

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