The United Nations Children's Fund says at least 400,000 children under 5 in Congo's troubled Kasai region are severely malnourished.
UNICEF said Tuesday that more than a year and half of deadly violence, displacement and reduced agricultural production are contributing to the problem. It says the children could die next year if not urgently reached with aid.
Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, the agency's acting representative in Congo, says the true scale of the problem is becoming clear as security improves in some areas and families return home.
UNICEF says about 220 health centers have been destroyed or damaged and crops have been neglected, with 1.4 million people displaced.
The Catholic Church estimated months ago that more than 3,300 people have been killed in fighting in the Kasai region.