The United Nations and its partners have appealed for $1.6 billion to provide vital humanitarian aid to people in Nigeria, Niger and other crisis-stricken Sahel region of West Africa, revising their previous requests for funding in light of the dramatic deterioration of the situation.
The appeal will help provide food, nutrition, health services, sanitation and other urgent assistance to 18.7 million people in Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Chad, Cameroon, Gambia and Senegal.
“It is crucial that momentum be maintained in the months to come, not only to address critical needs but also to prepare for rebuilding lives and livelihoods of people affected by the crisis,” the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, David Gressly, said at the appeal launch in Geneva.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the situation in the Sahel region has deteriorated dramatically through 2012 owing to drought and sporadic rains, poor harvest, rising food prices, displacement and insecurity.
In addition to the drought, the northern part of Mali has also witnessed resumed clashes between Government forces and Tuareg rebels since January, leading to the mass displacement of civilians. The majority of those uprooted have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.
Across the region, more than one million children under five are at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition and require immediate relief. An additional three million children are at risk of moderate acute malnutrition.
Humanitarian agencies have supported governments in the region to respond to the crisis by deploying staff and scaling up programmes.
So far, donors have provided 43 per cent of the funding required – however, the concern remains that if assistance is not sustained, the transition from acute emergency to recovery may fail.