The UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Mr Toby Lanzer has called for immediate international engagement across the Sahel, in the areas of stability, trade, development, infrastructure and tackling the humanitarian issues.
Briefing reporters in New York, on Tuesday Lanzer said:” the greater efforts from the international community and development partners is needed to meet the region’s growing needs.
” If we do not do this, there’s no doubt in my mind, that a tempest with incalculable proportions awaits us in the future”.
He said that warned that no fewer than 9.2 million people in the Lake Chad Basin are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The coordinator said out of the number, no fewer than 4.4 million face severe food insecurity.
“This means that they are really on the verge of a life-threatening situation, and we must do more, better, and faster.
“I fear that it’s going to take an awful lot more than humanitarian aid – it’s going to take much greater engagement by the development partners,” he added.
He said that in the area around the Lake Chad Basin, which borders Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, about 2.2 million people are displaced from their homes because of the “horrific” actions of Boko Haram as well as government counter-insurgencies.
He also expressed concern over the fact that in 20 years’ time, the population of the Sahel region will double to 300 million from 150 million.
“Unless the countries of the Sahel tackle this demographic challenge which faces them, the countries will get poorer, communities will suffer more, enrolment rates will go down.
“Fewer women will have access to health care and the Sustainable Development Goals will not be met,” he said.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), across the entire Sahel region, no fewer than 23.5 million people face food insecurity.
OCHA also said that 5.9 million children are malnourished and at least 4.5 million are displaced by the effects of conflicts.
The IM says the people in the region are among the world’s poorest and are struggling with food insecurity, environmental degradation and violent extremism at the hands of Boko Haram insurgents.
The Sahel region covers parts of northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, central Mali, northern Burkina Faso, the south of Algeria, Niger, the north of Nigeria.
Others are Central Chad, Central and Southern Sudan, the north of South Sudan, Eritrea and the north of Ethiopia