UN: Almost 33 million people in Sahel need lifesaving aid, protection


The number of people on the brink of starvation across the Sahel has increased almost tenfold over the past three years and displacement by almost 400 percent as the region stares down a horrendous food crisis. [Courtesy, WFP]

Facing a web of complex crises, 32.8 million people in Africa's Sahel region, stretching from Senegal to Eritrea, need lifesaving assistance and protection, UN humanitarians said on Friday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) put the warning in its 2024 Humanitarian Needs and Requirements Overview for the Sahel, highlighting the nature of the humanitarian crises faced, what this means for those living in the region, and how humanitarians are responding to these crises.

The report said some critical areas of concern are the Liptako Gourma region (covering Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger), and the Lake Chad basin (including Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria), with spillover effects increasingly felt in the Gulf of Guinea's coastal countries and Mauritania.

"Across the Sahel, growing violence and conflict threaten lives and livelihoods, forcing families to flee their homes and preventing access to basic social services -- 2.2 million children are deprived of their right to education due to school closures, and close to 1,300 health centers are closed," OCHA said.

The report pointed out that the region hosts 2 million refugees and asylum seekers and 5.6 million internally displaced persons, many of whom have faced multiple displacements.

"In the June to August lean season, 16.7 million people will struggle to feed themselves," OCHA said.

The United Nations and partners need 4.7 billion U.S. dollars this year to support 21 million people in Burkina Faso, Cameroon's Far North Region, Chad, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria's Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. So far, only 16 percent of the funding, or 761 million dollars, has been received.