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Child hunger in Iraq said about double

GENEVA -- Malnutrition among the youngest Iraqis has almost doubled since the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, a hunger specialist told the UN Human Rights Commission yesterday in a summary of previously-reported studies on the nation's health.

By last fall, 7.7 percent of Iraqi children under 5 suffered acute malnutrition, compared with 4 percent after Hussein's ouster in April 2003, said Jean Ziegler, a specialist on the commission.

Malnutrition, which is exacerbated by inadequate sanitation and a lack of clean water, is a major killer of children in poor countries.

The situation facing Iraqi youngsters is ''a result of the war led by coalition forces," said Ziegler, a Swiss sociology professor and former lawmaker.

Overall, more than a quarter of Iraqi children don't get enough to eat, Ziegler said.

The US delegation and other coalition countries declined to respond to his presentation.

Ziegler did not mention the role of Iraq's insurgency in the nutrition problem, something often cited by aid groups.

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