On 24th February, the International Committee of the Red Cross launches an appeal for an additional 12.3 million CHF (10 million Euros) to avert a major humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region.
Boris Michel, ICRC's Head of Operations for Northern and Western Africa says: "In Mali and Niger, we face a double situation with renewed insurgencies and fighting in Northern Mali where thousands of people have had to flee and a food crisis affecting the whole Sahel belt where people lack food, have lost their crops and cattle has no fodder to survive on."
Fierce fighting in northern Mali has so far displaced over 60,000 within the country. A further 23,000 have fled to neighbouring Niger. While some people have been taken in by host families, the vast majority are in makeshift shelters, desperately short of food, having fled with nothing.
Violence in the area has been rampant since intercommunal clashes began in 2008. A proliferation of weapons has also created a climate of fear with farmers abandoning their fields and rural markets being deserted. Furthermore, the Sahel region has been hard hit by recurrent droughts as well as soil degradation. This combination of factors is pushing the Sahel region into a severe food shortage.
Michel explains action is needed now to avert a major humanitarian disaster: "The ICRC appeals for an additional €10 million to provide food, cash, seeds and fodder to those people in need in the middle of the food crisis. With regard to the people affected by violence, the ICRC wants to distribute food, seeds, cash and livestock fodder." With increased resources, the ICRC would also be able to provide medical attention to the wounded and assist detainees.
The extra funds could provide a lifeline to over 700,000 people.
(Video 1 - Boris Michel, ICRC Head of Operations for Northern and Western Africa + B-Roll footage of region)
(Video 2 - French Version)