UN: 18 million facing severe hunger in West Africa's Sahel

PTI | Geneva | Updated: 20-05-2022 17:51 IST | Created: 20-05-2022 17:24 IST
UN: 18 million facing severe hunger in West Africa's Sahel
Representative image Image Credit: ANI
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The UN is warning that 18 million people in Africa's Sahel region face severe hunger in the next three months, citing the impacts of Russia's war in Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic, climate-induced shocks, and rising costs.

The hunger crisis may press increased numbers of people to migrate out of the affected areas, said a UN official.

The largest number of people are at risk of severe hunger across the region since 2014, and four countries — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger — are facing "alarming levels", with nearly 1.7 million people facing emergency levels of food insecurity there, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Friday.

Parts of the Sahel region, a vast territory stretching across the south of the Sahara Desert, have faced their worst agricultural production in more than a decade, and food shortages could worsen as the lean season arrives in late summer, Tomson Phiri, spokesman for the UN's Nobel Peace Prize-winning World Food Programme, said.

"The situation is going to get worse before it gets better," he told reporters in Geneva. "We may see more people trying to make ends meet by migrating: It's a very, very likely possibility." Many people from the region are among migrants who seek to travel north to Europe in hopes of economic opportunity, more stability, and safety.

"A combination of violence, insecurity, deep poverty, and record-high food prices are exacerbating malnutrition and driving millions to the fringes of survival," Martin Griffiths, the head of OCHA, said in a statement.

"The recent spike in food prices driven by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is threatening to turn a food security crisis into a humanitarian disaster," he said.

Those two countries are key producers of wheat, barley, and other agricultural products, and the conflict has almost entirely halted exports through the Black Sea.

Griffiths' office is releasing USD 30 million from its emergency relief fund for the four African countries.

Humanitarian groups earlier this year launched appeals seeking USD 3.8 billion in aid for the region in 2022, but they remain only 12 percent funded, OCHA said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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