DAKAR (Reuters) – The United Nations’ World Food Programme on Wednesday said it needed extra funding to help millions of people in West and Central Africa get through the coming months known as the lean season.

The WFP said the current cash crunch meant that it would only be able to help just over half of the 11.6 million targeted under an emergency food operation in countries including Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Chad, where an influx of refugees from Sudan has put extra pressure on limited resources.

Conflicts and soaring prices have helped drive food insecurity to a 10-year high in West and Central Africa, according to a March analysis by the Cadre Harmonise, a regional food security framework.

Malnutrition rates have also surged, with 16.5 million children under 5 expected to be acutely malnourished this year, WFP said.

It seeks $794 million to respond adequately to needs in the five Sahel region countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger from July to December.

(Reporting by Bate Felix; Writing by Alessandra Prentice and Mark Porter)

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