The United Nations has confirmed that a high-level donor conference for Africa’s Sahel region will take place next week as it rang the alarm over insufficient funds needed to keep its aid programmes in place.
Tuesday’s conference, which is hosted by Denmark, Germany, the European Union and the UN, aims to raise urgently needed funds to help the region’s increasingly vulnerable communities in the face of the coronavirus and changing climate.
“[Its goal] is to instil a much more acute sense of urgency among policymakers about the situation in the central Sahel,” the UN humanitarian agency said on Friday.
“People living in this border region between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger are now at an epicentre of conflict, poverty and climate change,” agency spokesman Jens Laerke told reporters in Geneva.
“Without support, we fear that the region could develop into one of the biggest crises in the world.”
International humanitarian response plans in the region were currently only about 40 percent funded, he said.
That is deeply concerning in a region where more than 13 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance – more than half of them children, according to UN figures.
And the number of people facing acute hunger has tripled over the past year alone to 7.4 million.
Some 1.5 million people are also now internally displaced in the region – a 20-fold increase from two years ago, Laerke said.