Growing crisis in Central Sahel

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27 January 2022

According to the UN Humanitarian Affairs Office (OCHA), problems and needs in the region are growing more quickly than the available support

For more than a decade the Central Sahel region, most notably comprising Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, has been at the center of conflicts between armed groups and government as well as international forces. In 2021, Burkina Faso became the region’s hotspot for violence with a sharp rise in abductions and attacks, such as the attack that took place in the Village of Solhan in June, in which 160 people were killed. Meanwhile, according to the latest estimates, the number of people facing severe food insecurity has tripled in Mali and doubled in Niger compared to November 2020.

Occurrences of violent attacks went up eightfold in Central Sahel between 2015 and 2021. In the same period, the number of fatalities increased more than tenfold. There is a long list of problems to be found in the area, such as, conflicts, climate change, political instability, lack of sustainable development opportunities and poverty, all of which are driving millions into increasingly desperate conditions. The spread of COVID-19 has only served to increase uncertainty and worsen the situation.

Due to such issues, the central Sahel remains “one of the most dangerous places in the world for aid workers'' according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Under Secretary General, Mr. Griffiths, who also notes that one-third of all abductions of aid workers in the world in 2020 occurred in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, forcing organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières to reduce the number of their staff in the region. Nevertheless, UN offices such as the OCHA and the Central Emergency Response Fund are releasing funds to help the region in hopes of reversing the current trends.


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Author: Dulce María Hernández Márquez; Editor: Maxime Grenier

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