– Caritas Venezuela has warned that some 280,000 children could die of malnutrition due to food shortages amidst the country’s grave economic crisis.

Susanna Rafalli, a Caritas representative in Venezuela, sounded the alarm during a press conference with foreign media.

Rafalli pointed out that besides the lack of food, the Venezuelan people are forced to deal with a shortage of medicine, a situation that is “silently decimating the population.”

According to a Caritas report, the quantity and quality of food had dropped across Venezuela, due to the chronic shortage of products available and high inflation rates.

Caritas, a Catholic organization, cares for the poorest and most vulnerable population in four Venezuelan states: the Caracas, Vargas, Miranda and Zulia. Nearly 10 percent of children in these states are severely malnourished.

The Caritas report stated that each week five or six children die of malnutrition. Caritas projects that 280,000 children could eventually die from hunger.

“Malnutrition has risen to 15 percent of children in August, therefore we declared a humanitarian emergency. 33 percent of the child population is already showing stunted growth. This damage, whether physical or mental, will accompany them throughout their lives.” Rafalli noted.

According to figures from Caritas, maternal mortality grew 10 percent between 2006 and 1016. However, they pointed out that in the last year it skyrocketed to 65 percent.

In addition, 63 percent of public hospitals do not have potable water, and 64 percent do not have milk for children, 51 percent do not have sufficient facilities for operations, Caritas warned.

This article was originally published by ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.