Women getting water in Burkina Faso | Photo: ANSA/Missionary group "Un Pozzo per la Vita"
Women getting water in Burkina Faso | Photo: ANSA/Missionary group "Un Pozzo per la Vita"

The UN migration agency is calling on the international community to provide funds for aid in Central Sahel. Over a million people have been displaced and over three million are struggling with food insecurity in the region, IOM says.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement published on Tuesday that US$37.8 million are needed to scale-up its operations in the Central Sahel region. The money is needed to provide urgent lifesaving assistance and address the transition and recovery needs of 460,000 individuals in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, according to IOM.

The UN agency said that 1.25 million people have been internally displaced due to a rise in violence and a multi-layered humanitarian crisis in region. More than three million people struggle with severe food insecurity and 9.4 million are in dire need of assistance in these countries at a time when COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout West Africa, according to IOM.

Coronavirus making a bad situation worse

IOM said the closure of markets and borders -- aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 -- is limiting livelihood opportunities for people in the region and further aggravating an already dire situation. That's why IOM is planning to scale up its operations to support local government efforts.

The UN agency said that it would use the requested aid money to provide shelter and non-food items to communities most affected by displacement and temporary collective sites.

According to IOM, basic social services including health care and the economies are weak in the Central Sahel region. Many jobs provide a low income and are in the informal sector. The region is also increasingly struggling with violent extremism and intercommunal tensions. On top of this, the region is also experiencing land degradation and water scarcity.

'Deteriorating sitiation in the Sahel'

"The COVID-19 response should not be implemented at the expense of existing programmes and activities," said Sophie Nonnenmacher, IOM acting Regional Director for West and Central Africa. "Alleviating the urgent needs of affected population and stabilizing the region, at security and economic levels, should remain a priority if we want to prevent the next humanitarian emergency," she said. "Distracting our attention from the deteriorating situation in the Sahel could wipe out the collective efforts made over decades."

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