Persistent insecurity in Africa's Sahel region is overshadowing a massive humanitarian crisis affecting 12 million people in five countries, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned Tuesday.
Armed conflict, transnational crime and climate change were causing immense human suffering, displacement within Africa as well as migration towards Europe, the organization said.
Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad are particularly severely affected by the crisis, according to the ICRC.
"The focus in the Sahel is on security issues, but this obscures a major tragedy - millions of families who are hungry and desperate for survival," said ICRC Africa deputy director Patrick Youssef.
"The consequences will be serious, including more displacement," Youssef warned during the International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa held in Senegal's capital, Dakar.
"Many of these locations are already strong breeding grounds for radicalization and extremism," he added.
The Sahel region is suffering ongoing conflicts, including attacks by numerous terrorist groups in the Lake Chad region and Mali, which also have serious consequences for neighboring Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
While food and job opportunities are already scarce, the United Nations projects the population of the Sahel region will increase from 90 million people to 240 million by 2050.