A "dramatic humanitarian crisis" fueled by conflict, displacements, hunger and poverty is unfolding in the three Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced yesterday. "If we do not act now to tackle hunger in the Sahel, a whole generation are at risk," agency spokesman Herve Verhoosel said.
Around 20 million people live in conflict-affected areas across the region, bearing the brunt of the unfolding crisis as hunger and malnutrition loom, according to WFP. More than 2.4 million people already require urgent food and nutrition assistance in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the organization added.
Roughly 1.1 million people across Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali have fled their homes in search of safety, the report said. Conflict is devastating agriculture and rural economies, and almost one in three children is out of school in the affected areas, according to the statement. The impacts of climate change have been felt heavily in the Sahel, interfering with regional weather patterns and upending the delicate balance struck between farmers and pastoralists who share vital resources such as water or grazing lands, WFP said. Fierce competition over these vital resources has been fueling conflict between ethnic groups. In addition, the north of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger serves as a refuge for terrorists who attack the civilian population.