The Democratic Republic of Congo health minister said Tuesday that at least 700 children under the age of five were dying from hunger a day in five of the strife-ravaged country's provinces.
More than a million women aged between 15 and 49 were also malnourished in the five provinces, which together account for 51 percent of the population of the vast central African country, Health Minister Victor Makwenge said.
"At least 700 children under five years are dying every day in the five provinces, where only one child out of five has a varied diet," Makwenge told reporters.
"Close to 530,000 children under five and more than a million women need urgent food aid", he said.
The minister was referring to the provinces of Equateur, Kasai, Kasai West, Katanga and Maniema.
UNICEF representative Pierrette Vu Thi agreed that malnutrition was a public health problem in the country, despite its rich potential for food production.
The World Food Programme says that every month it helps to feed about a million vulnerable Congolese, including pregnant women and children.