UN warns of mounting humanitarian crisis in Africa's Sahel - GulfToday

UN warns of mounting humanitarian crisis in Africa's Sahel


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The U.N. said on Tuesday that the growing crisis in West Africa’s Sahel region caused by insecurity and extremists attacks has displaced more than 860,000 people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

Nearly half a million people have been displaced this year in Burkina Faso alone.  The landlocked country has become the new hunting ground for extremists linked to the Islamic State group and al-Qaida.

"A dramatic human crisis is unfolding in Burkina Faso that has disrupted the lives of millions,” the UN World Food Program’s executive director, David Beasley, said in a statement. "A third of the country is now a conflict zone.”

WFP teams are seeing malnutrition levels "pushed well past emergency thresholds,” he said. "This means young children and new mothers are on the brink. If the world is serious about saving lives, the time to act is now.”

Farmers have been forced to abandon their fields. As communities take in displaced people, already stretched resources are further depleted.

WFP is assisting more than 2.6 million people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. It said $150 million is urgently needed in a region where some 20 million people live in conflict-affected areas.

"The main trigger here is conflict,” WFP regional spokesman George Fominyen said. "Then you are talking about it happening in a place that in itself already has a lot of problems” such as drought, poverty, weak government, unemployment and lack of social services.

Extremists exploit those troubles while wary communities turn on each other amid allegations of supporting the jihadists. The violence limits humanitarian access to people in need and the poverty contributes to the violence, Fominyen said.

The response to the crisis cannot just be about security, he warned. It also must address the root causes and offer viable alternatives to joining extremist groups.

Associated Press.

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