U.N. Officials Warn Additional Funding Will Be Needed To Fight Food Insecurity In African Sahel
“Sahelian governments and local and international aid groups are struggling to cope with both the continual arrivals of people fleeing … northern Mali, and the mounting number of hungry people across the region as the lean season gets underway,” IRIN reports. According to UNHCR, nearly 300,000 people have been displaced within Mali or fled to surrounding countries, and IRIN reports “governments are already struggling to get aid to millions of their inhabitants, who are facing hunger due to drought.” The news service writes, “The U.N. estimates that 16 million people across the Sahel are facing hunger this year, and hunger levels are rising.” IRIN continues, “This complex mix of slow and fast-onset crises means the U.N. will be revising or launching new funding appeals from the current $1 billion to $1.5 billion in coming weeks, said Noel Tsekouras, deputy head of office at the West Africa bureau of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Dakar” (5/4).
Speaking from Niger in a phone interview with the U.N. News Centre on Sunday, Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said, “This is one that the international community cannot and must not ignore.” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres joined Cousin in Niger to raise awareness of the situation and advocate for more funding, according to the news service. “In this case, the crisis is different than it’s ever been in the past. … It’s even more complicated because of the evolving conflict situation in Mali as well as the high food prices,” Cousin added. WFP estimates it needs $450 million in funding to address the situation in the Sahel, the U.N. News Centre notes (5/6).