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Internally displaced Somali women gather with their jerrycans to receive water at a distribution centre organized by a Qatar charity after fleeing from drought stricken regions in Baidoa, west of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

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GENEVA (Reuters) - Some 1.4 million children in drought-hit Somalia are projected to suffer acute malnutrition this year, 50 percent more than estimated in January, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.

The new figure includes more than 275,000 children potentially facing a life-threatening severe acute form of malnutrition, who are nine times more likely to die of cholera or measles, UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said. "The combination is deadly for children," she told a news briefing.

UNICEF has treated 56,000 Somali children for the most severe form of malnutrition since the beginning of year, an increase of 88 percent over last year, she added.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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