Joint UN OCHA-OIC humanitarian partnership mission to Africa’s Sahel region ends in Burkina Faso, commits to work on strengthening resilience
(Ouagadougou/Dakar, 23 October 2012): A high-level humanitarian partnership mission to the Sahel region of West Africa, led jointly by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), ended its visit in Burkina Faso on Sunday, after spending time in Mali and Niger.
Burkina Faso is facing a new humanitarian emergency, after being hit by a series of food and nutrition crises since 2005. Some 3 million people have been affected by hunger this year, including 100,000 children who are at risk of Severe Acute Malnutrition. The situation has been exacerbated by the arrival of some 35,000 refugees fleeing insecurity in northern Mali. They have found refuge in host communities whose resources are already stretched.
“Thanks to the Government, and with the support of the humanitarian community, we have so far been able to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in Burkina Faso,” said Ambassador Yehia Lawal,
Director of the African Department of the OIC. Ambassador Lawal jointly led the mission with Pascal Karorero, Humanitarian Coordinator in Burkina Faso.
“However, we should not underestimate the severity of the crisis in this country, and in the Sahel region, which calls for a collective response,” he added. “No single country or organisation acting alone can stop the vicious cycle of hunger, which costs hundreds of thousands of lives even when there is no acute crisis.”
In Burkina Faso, the delegation met members of the Government and the humanitarian community and visited Mentao North camp, which hosts Malian refugees. Delegation members held talks with the regional authorities and met refugees, who expressed gratitude to Burkina Faso for its solidarity and protection. They also expressed their hopes of returning to Mali, saying that they not only need food and water, but also the opportunity to go home to a peaceful country.
Fifty-six humanitarian organisations are currently working in Burkina Faso. More than 800,000 people have received food aid and 200,000 have received nutrition assistance from the United Nations and its partners. Some 600,000 people have benefitted from agricultural aid. However, even when there is no crisis, one million Burkinabe are vulnerable to chronic food insecurity.
“This mission comes at a crucial time,” said Humanitarian Coordinator Pascal Karorero. “We need to find a new paradigm to reinforce the capacity of the most vulnerable households to absorb recurrent shocks. This is the only way to make a sustainable change in the life of millions in the Sahel region, and particularly in Burkina Faso.”
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.