UN launches £2bn appeal for Africa’s Sahel region

10 Dec 15

United Nations agencies and their partners have launched an appeal for almost $2bn to provide crucial assistance to people in Africa’s Sahel region for 2016.

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People in displaced persons camp in Juba, South Sudan

People in displaced persons camp in Juba, South Sudan

 

The UN said that $1.98bn will be needed next year to support people affected by environmental crises, violence, conflict and poverty in nine countries across the region.

Toby Lanzer, the UN’s assistant secretary-general and regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, said climate change, abject poverty, rapid population growth and a rise in insecurity threaten the lives, assets and future prospects of some of the world’s most vulnerable.

“We need the renewed support of the international community to ensure millions are afforded the most basic assistance and protection they deserve to survive and live a dignified life,” he added.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that next year some 23.5 million, almost one in six, people in the region will not have enough to eat.

At least 6 million of these will require emergency food assistance and severe malnutrition will threaten the lives and development of 5.9 million children under five, it warned.

Vincent Martin, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s sub-regional resilience and emergency office for West Africa and FAO representative in Senegal, said timely agricultural assistance will be essential to reducing poverty and vulnerability in the Sahel.

Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which provides assistance to displaced people in north-east Nigeria, added that the world “has sadly not yet woken up to the scale of the crisis in the Lake Chad basin”, where terrorist faction Boko Haram affects the lives of 30 million people.

The OCHA said that a recent spike in violence has exacerbated an already dire situation across the Sahel, with 4.5 million people forced from their homes – a threefold increase in less than two years and a new peak of displacement.

“Mounting humanitarian need is the most visible symptom of the triple crisis of poverty, insecurity and climate change that plagues the region,” Lanzer said. 

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