File - At an informal tented settlement in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley children watch their mother prepare bread in their tent. (UNICEF/Joe Saade/2013)
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An increasing number of young Syrian children in Lebanon are at risk of dying from malnourishment, according to a report released Tuesday, prompting aid agencies to leap into action to tackle the "silent threat" before it reaches crisis levels.Although the overall figure is still well below emergency levels, agencies are emphasizing the need to prevent the problem from snowballing, pointing to the situation in the Bekaa Valley where extreme cases in kids younger than 5 doubled between 2012 and 2013 . Some 20 percent of the 936,000 official refugees in the country are under age 5, the group most vulnerable to malnutrition and its lifelong negative effects.The results showed 5.9 percent of all Syrians under 5 are suffering from either moderate or acute malnutrition, well below WHO's critical 15 percent level, but a significant increase from the 4.4 percent registered in 2012 .For example, contrary to expectations, those suffering from malnutrition often display a lack of appetite and may look bloated due to increased water retention.
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