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AU's response to the Sahelian crisis

By African Union Commission (AUC)
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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, March 9, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Jean Ping, notes with deep concern of the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the unfolding complex emergency in the Sahel region, which is characterized by the drought, insecurity, high food prices, erosion of the resilience of the affected communities and displacement of persons, which has left over 10 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

The commission commends the efforts of the national governments, international community and other actors who have responded to the situation, for their respective efforts and calls for a scaling up of response by all. The Commission notes that of the US$ 686,483,359.00, required as resource needs, current funding stands at US$179,805,767.00. It leaves a resource shortfall of about US$512 million or 80% short and it is noted that the gap keeps increasing. There is therefore a need for enhanced support to bridge the deficit and the ever mounting requirements.

The African Union Commission is therefore, announcing an initial donation of US$500,000.00. A humanitarian assessment mission will be undertaken to the region and calls upon the entire continent including traditional donors, other States and entities outside of Africa, to join in the fraternal expression of solidarity with the affected persons.

The Commission further commends the efforts of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) for the emergency response provided. It is appealing to other Regional Economic Communities (REC's), Member States, Organized Private Sector, Civil Society and the entire African citizenry to redouble their efforts to reduce this shortfall.

This situation has been driven by adverse climate and geography, which has led to rain failure and poor harvest, resulting in chronic food and nutrition insecurity. In particular, the Commission notes that the situation risks widespread malnutrition especially amongst children across the sub-region, while the conflict in Northern Mali and the mixed nature of the displacement of refugees and returnees in Niger, including the challenges facing national governments of the sub-region further compounds the complex nature of the dire humanitarian situation.

The African Union Commission urges respective governments of the region, partners, and sub-regional organizations to integrate emergency relief efforts into medium and longer term solutions that builds resilience among communities in drought prone areas by expanding the scope for recovery and rehabilitation. A development approach which seeks to address root causes including by developing regional resilience strategy is encouraged in this regard.

The African Union Commission is also deeply concerned with the effect of the current conflict in Northern Mali and other parts of the region on the humanitarian situation including its direct impact on need for unfettered humanitarian space and recovery efforts. In order come up with a comprehensive position, the AU and UN carried out a joint Security Situation Assessment Mission which will be followed by an Experts' meeting in Addis Ababa on 14-15 March, 2012. The meeting aims at deliberating on the outcome of that initial assessment mission and proffer solutions to the complex emergency by exploring its different dimensions.