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Displacement and humanitarian needs rise in the Sahel

27 Feb 2020


A site for internally displaced people in the locality of Foubé in the Centre-Nord region of Burkina Faso. Credit: OCHA/Otto Bakano

Unprecedented levels of armed violence have sparked a growing humanitarian crisis along the border area of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

The number of internally displaced people has increased fourfold in one year to more than 1.1 million, in addition to 110,000 refugees.

The number of people facing a critical lack of food has spiked due to rising insecurity and climatic shocks. About 3.7 million people are expected to face food insecurity at “crisis” and “emergency” levels during the lean season of 2020, a 110 per cent increase compared with last year. 

Armed assailants are directly targeting schools and forcing health centres to close, jeopardizing the future of children and depriving communities of critical services. More than 3,600 schools and 241 health centres are no longer operating.

In 2020, 7.5 million people in the affected regions will need urgent assistance. More resources are required to deliver life-saving assistance to the affected communities. This year, the humanitarian community is appealing for more than US$1 billion to support the most vulnerable.

To support national and local authorities, the UN and its humanitarian partners are scaling up operations to save lives and alleviate human suffering. In 2019, however, only 50 per cent of the US$717 million needed for the response was received.

In February 2020, $17 million was allocated from the UN Central Emergency Fund for Burkina Faso and Mali to provide provisions of shelter, water and sanitation, protection, health, nutrition and food security.

Earlier this week, the Government of Niger, the UN and humanitarian partners jointly launched the Humanitarian Response Plan for Niger for 2020 and the Government Support Plan. The two plans combined will help 2 million of the most vulnerable.

Niger continues to face constant population displacement due to increased activities by non-State armed groups in the Tillaberi and Tahoua regions in the west and the Diffa region in the south-east, while food insecurity and malnutrition threaten millions of people across the country.

The UN plan seeks US$400 million while the Government plan seeks $320 million.