New York, 12 February 2015 – The United Nations and its partners today launched an appeal for nearly $2 billion to provide vital humanitarian assistance to millions of people in nine countries across Africa’s Sahel region.“I am gravely concerned by the crisis in the Sahel. Families are extremely vulnerable to changes in the climate and many are affected by insecurity and the precarious economic situation in many countries,” said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos.
“We need the support of the international community and sustained government leadership to ensure that we do not forget the people of the Sahel,” she added, referring to a region that stretches across the southern fringe of the Sahara desert and is one of the harshest environments in the world.
Some 145 million people in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal live in a region that is constantly challenged by chronic food and malnutrition crises, and is vulnerable to climate change, droughts and unpredictable rainfall.
The Sahel humanitarian appeal for 2015, launched today in New York and totalling $1.96 billion, is part of a regional multi-year strategy to respond better to the chronic challenges in the region by emphasizing early intervention and forging closer partnerships with governments and development actors.
Over 20 million people in the region are short of food, 2.6 million of whom need life-saving food assistance now; and nearly six million children under the age of five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2015.
Violent conflict and insecurity have worsened over the last 12 months in many of the countries. As a result, 2.8 million people have been uprooted from their homes, over one million more than this time last year.
“Violence in north-east Nigeria, the volatile situation in Mali, and the crisis in the Central African Republic are creating more suffering for communities that are already amongst the poorest in the world,” said Robert Piper, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel.
In an interview with the UN News Centre, Mr. Piper noted that number of people in need is vast. “With that $2 billion we aim to provide food assistance to almost 10 million people; to treat 3.2 million acutely malnourished children; to protect up to 10 million people from epidemics; and to get at least 2 million children into schooling that are in emergency conditions.
“These are very big numbers but you can imagine behind these numbers is a huge amount of suffering in terms of households, in terms of uncertainty for the future. So the stakes are extremely high.”