Cape Town – A “dramatic humanitarian crisis” is unfolding in the three Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, fuelled by conflict, displacements, hunger and poverty, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.
“If we do not act now to tackle hunger in the Sahel, a whole generation are at risk,” said WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel.
About 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 organisation added.
Roughly 1.1 million people across Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali had 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 many conflict-affected areas, according to the statement.
The impacts of climate change had 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 fuelling conflict between ethnic groups.
In addition, the north of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger serves as a refuge for Islamist extremists, who also attack the civilian population.