UN and partners call for US$ 2 billion for emergency needs in the Sahel

By Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

United Nations agencies and partners today launched the Sahel humanitarian appeal for 2016. The regional plan calls for US$1.98 billion to provide vital assistance to millions of people affected by crises in nine countries across Africa's Sahel region.

“In the Sahel, the combined effects of climate change, abject poverty, fast population growth and a tormenting rise in violence and insecurity dangerously undermine the lives, assets and future prospects of some of the most vulnerable communities in the world,” said Toby Lanzer, Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel. “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,” Lanzer added. In 2016, some 23.5 million people — almost one in six - will not have enough to eat, of which at least 6 million will require emergency food assistance. Acute malnutrition will threaten the lives and development of 5.9 million children under five years of age. “Agricultural assistance is essential to restore people's livelihoods and contribute to halt the vicious cycle of poverty and vulnerability in the Sahel”, said Vincent Martin, Head of the sub-regional resilience and emergency office for West Africa (FAO) and FAO Representative in Senegal. “For the many families who rely on subsistence farming, timely assistance will allow them to continue to grow their own food, secure income and take advantage of local economic opportunities.” A spike in violence has worsened the already dire situation in the region and has led to new peaks of displacement. Today, 4.5 million people have been forced from their homes, representing a threefold increase in less than two years. In addition to the volatile situation in Mali, where insecurity continues to hamper the return to their homes of some 200,000 Malians, the violence across the Lake Chad Basin accounts for more than half of the displaced people in the Sahel. “The world has sadly not yet woken up to the scale of the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin. 30 million people live in areas affected by Boko Haram's senseless acts of terrorism. Their random targeting leaves entire populations in fear, and 2.5 million have so far had to flee from their homes”, stressed Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), one of the organisations providing assistance to the displaced in north-east of Nigeria. “Mounting humanitarian need is the most visible symptom of the triple crisis of poverty, insecurity and climate change that plagues the Sahel region,” Lanzer concluded. “As humanitarians, we will do our part, delivering essential food, health care, safe water and sanitation to families; treating children from malnutrition and striving so they can stay in schools despite the odds. We also pledge to work with countries and organisations engaged in development and stabilisation programmes, without which humanitarian aid will be required indefinitely.”