AFRICA - Six million people risk hunger in the Sahel region

Tuesday, 3 July 2018


Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - Nearly 6 million people are struggling to get food in Burkina Faso, Ciad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger e Senegal. Severe malnutrition is threatening the lives of 1.6 million children. This is the alarm launched by Caritas Internationalis, which registers "the worst humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region since 2012" and the most critical months are still ahead.
The crisis was triggered by scarce and erratic rainfall resulting in water, crop and pasture shortages and livestock losses. With four months in advance, farmers were forced to move with livestock and food has already run out for millions. Severe acute malnutrition rates in the six countries have increased by 50 percent since last year. One child in six under the age of five now needs urgent life-saving treatment to survive. Families are cutting down on meals, withdrawing children from school and going without essential health treatment to save money for food. "The violent attacks by Boko Haram militants has forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes in the region of Diffa, in south-east Niger", said Caritas Développement Niger (CADEV). Diffa is one of the poorest regions in the world where women and children represent 85% of refugees and internally displaced persons.
"In Niger, the humanitarian situation is terrible, it is getting worse day by day due to the security crisis in Diffa, Tillabery and Tahoua", says a statement by Raymond Yoro, general secretary of CADEV, sent to Fides. "The number of people in need is constantly growing, with an increase of 400 thousand units compared to 2017. It is estimated that, in 2018, 1.4 million people will need food assistance. CADEV is particularly busy with over 380 thousand young children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and 922 thousand children with moderate acute malnutrition.
The situation is also critical in Burkina Faso. According to Caritas, there are 6 regions affected by acute malnutrition: Soum, Namentenga, Gnagna, Komandjoari, Boulkiemde and Kourweogo. Caritas Burkina secretary general, Abbé Constantin Safanitié Sere, said it is the worst humanitarian crisis since 2012. Rising cereal prices, the impact of climate change and terrorist attacks in several regions have exacerbated the challenges faced by many who have been displaced.
Severe acute malnutrition rates are at their highest since 2008 in Mauritania. Half a million people are threatened by famine. According to a study carried out in February 2018, 147,507 humans are at risk of acute malnutrition. "Despite the hope caused by some sporadic rain, the humanitarian situation remains worrisome in rural areas", said Caritas Mauritania. The Catholic organization is urging partners to provide financial support to implement its emergency program to support people in their local areas and avoid migration to large urban centers. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 3/7/2018)