The European Commission has announced it will disburse €35m in humanitarian aid to support vulnerable communities in Africa’s Sahel region.
Around 24.4 million residents of the Sahel region, comprising Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal, are in immediate need of humanitarian aid; with more than 10 million in need of urgent food assistance. Conflicts, extreme weather events and food shortages across the region have contributed to an ongoing humanitarian crisis, with 5.18 million people internally displaced. In September 2019, the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) designated Central Sahel, which includes Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, to be a Level 3 emergency: the highest grade issued by the programme.
Margot van der Velden, Director of the WFP’s Emergencies division, said: “The Sahel is historically, structurally very poor; it does not have the major investments it needs. It is an area that is climate-shock prone, with the highest temperature and the least natural resources for agriculture…[the Level 3 designation] means we as an organisation think we don’t have the capacities to operate in this complex and evolving situation.”
The new tranche of Sahel humanitarian aid, which brings the EU’s total assistance to the region in 2019 to more than €187m, will be delivered through humanitarian organisations in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger; and will cover:
- Improving residents’ access to food, healthcare and education provision;
- Assisting people who have been forcibly displaced by conflict and violence; and
- Supporting host communities and humanitarian organisations to deal with crises.
Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, said: “From Mauritania to Chad, many vulnerable communities in the Sahel region are facing hunger due to growing insecurity and conflict. Many more people rely on our humanitarian assistance for survival. We remain committed to help those in need and support humanitarian organisations working to deliver aid in the region.”