Over 11 million people in need of food assistance in Sahel, says UN official

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Sahel drought victims

More than 11 million people in the Sahel region of Africa are in need of food assistance, according to Robert Piper, the United Nations Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the region.

He briefed reporters in New York for the first time as the relief official for the region of semiarid grassland and desert that stretches along the edge of the Sahara between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea.

Mr. Piper recalled that during the humanitarian crisis caused by drought last year, donors and the United Nations responded quickly with assistance.

The regional humanitarian coordinator said despite much better rains from 2012 to this year, and despite better harvest projections for many countries in the region, there are multiple crises in the Sahel.

"Mali is reeling from a double crisis, the man-made crisis, the conflict that is waging there that has displaced more people, created more refugees but also, of course, Mali itself reeling from the aftermath of last year's drought and dealing with very high food insecurity problems as well. Across the region we have food insecurity affecting well over 11 million people, not the 18 million of last year but still a huge caseload requiring assistance, over five million children at risk of acute malnutrition." (31")

Mr. Piper said beyond Mali's caseload of internally displaced people and refugees, Chad in the east is host to about half a million internally displaced people and refugees.

He added that Mali has seen the largest inflow of people coming across the border from Sudan and the Central African Republic since 2004 and hundreds of thousands of people returning from Libya.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1'35"

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