Sahel Refugees Among Most Vulnerable
The drought and food crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa are unrelenting.
More than 18.4 million people now face severe hunger in West Africa, and one million children are at risk of acute malnutrition.
As if that was not enough, the situation is made worse by political unrest. Indeed, on top of erratic rainfall, low crop yields and high market prices, many countries in the region are also dealing with the aftermath of an armed uprising earlier this year in Northern Mali. Since the start of the internal turmoil in that country, more than 320,000 Malians have had to flee their homes. According to the UN, 160,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have sought security elsewhere in Mali, and more than 172,000 refugees have crossed the border into Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger. This is putting serious strain on host communities’ already very low food reserves.
The challenges of helping to meet even basic daily needs are immense as aid agencies do what they can to provide assistance in remote locations and under extreme conditions. In Niger’s Tilabery province for example, six spontaneous refugee camps near the Mali border have seen the arrivals of thousands of people where little or no infrastructure exists to help them. For reasons of safety and efficiency of aid delivery, these spontaneous refugee camps are being merged into one which will accommodate up to 12,000 people.
This means that resources can be used in a much more cost-effective way, allowing aid agencies to reach vulnerable populations more rapidly. This will save lives.
When they are made aware of looming disasters, Canadians have a record of involvement and generosity. The people of West Africa need their help now. By working together, we can make a difference.
For more information on how the member agencies of the Humanitarian Coalition are responding to the refugee situation in the Sahel, and to arrange interviews with agency officials currently in the region, please get in touch with our media contacts.
About the HUMANITARIAN COALITION
The Humanitarian Coalition is a joint appeal mechanism. It is comprised of CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Plan Canada and Save the Children. With a combined presence in more than 120 countries, we bring together Canada's leading aid agencies to finance relief efforts in times of international humanitarian crises. We work together to eliminate unnecessary competition, reduce the duplication of fundraising costs, and inform the public on humanitarian needs. Follow us on and .