Regional actors must take ownership and play a central role in addressing the humanitarian crises in the Sahel region, humanitarian partners in West Africa say

(Dakar, 25 June 2012). – ECOWAS and humanitarian partners in West Africa agreed today to further strengthen their existing collaboration on humanitarian and resilience issues for a more effective and sustainable response to the current and future Sahel crises.

“Regional actors must take ownership and play a central role in addressing the humanitarian crises in the Sahel region with the support of the international community” said ECOWAS Director for Humanitarian and Social Affairs Dr. Daniel Eklu at the end of the meeting, which he Co-chaired together with UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel David Gressly. ECOWAS, UN agencies, NGOs and the International Committee of the Red Cross attended the meeting in Dakar.

The participants decided to take advantage of the 28th-29th June 2012 ECOWAS Summit in Yamoussoukro, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, to appeal for the additional resources that are necessary to effectively address the humanitarian needs of the affected populations in the Sahel. A regional launch of the consolidated appeals for Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, in addition to the revised consolidated appeals for Chad and Niger, and funding requirements for Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal and The Gambia will be organized on the margins of the summit.

“Coordinated response and adequate resources are key to avoid the food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel Region becoming a catastrophe” said Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel David Gressly. “We should miss no opportunity for joint advocacy and resource mobilization, and to draw the attention of the International community on the dire situation of affected people in the Sahel”.

Over 18 million people are affected by food insecurity and malnutrition in nine countries, including five ECOWAS Members - Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and the Gambia- as well as Cameroon, Chad, Mauritania. More than a million children under 5 are at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition in 2012 and three million will suffer from moderate acute malnutrition. A total of US$1.6 billion has been required to address the Sahel crises in 2012, of which $716 million – or 45 per cent – have been committed.

ECOWAS and humanitarian partners also agreed to further enhance collaboration in preparedness at the regional and national levels; and to advocate for establishing and safeguarding humanitarian space for relief supplies and humanitarian actors in response to the crisis in Mali and for increased assistance to all displaced persons by the crisis in Mali, including Malian refugees in neighbouring countries and Internally Displaced Persons.

For further information, please contact:
Dakar (ROWCA): Rémi Dourlot, +221 77 569 9653 dourlot@un.org ; or Angelita DIOP, +221 77 450 6181 mendya@un.org

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