Violence dashes hopes for Sahel's vulnerable, says top UN aide

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Mothers walking home with supplementary rations for their under-two children in Niger’s central region of Tahoua © Catherine-Lune Grayson/IRIN

Insecurity is on the march again in the vast Sahel region and any hopes for an improvement in the outlook for millions of vulnerable people there have evaporated.

That's the assessment of the UN's chief humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, Robert Piper.

He said regional players need to confront the security challenge there or else risk facing even worse problems in 2015.

Traditionally, the people of the Sahel have been victim of drought and famine, while more recently violence has caused a huge spike in refugee numbers.

By far the biggest concern is Nigeria where 1.5 million people have fled Boko Haram fundamentalists.

They've been seeking shelter in neighbouring countries such as Niger, where there's more than 60 per cent food insecurity already, according to Mr Piper.

"What has changed is the scale of the problem of Boko Haram, it is generating more and more suffering, it is generating more and more displacement. In the course of four months a jump from 600 to 1000 to over 1.5 million people, according to the Nigerian authorities." (20)

Ten years ago the region received 200 million dollars but aid needs have shot up to more than two billion dollars today, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Mr Piper called that unsustainable.

He urged all nine governments in the region from Senegal and Gambia in the west to Chad in the east to implement desperately needed long-term fixes to help the vulnerable.

In the short-term, the region also needs an additional 40 million dollars to put anti-ebola measures in place.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1’32″

 

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