GENEVA ( Associated Press) — Eighteen million people face extreme famine in the Sahel over the next three months due to the impact of the Russian war in Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic, weather-related shocks and rising cost of food. life, the United Nations said on Friday.
This crisis could drive emigration from the region, explained the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
It is the episode of famine that would affect more people in the region since 2014, and four nations — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger — are already at “alarming levels”, with about 1.7 million people in an emergency situation. food safety, the agency said.
Parts of the Sahel region, a vast territory that stretches south of the Sahara desert, have seen their worst agricultural output in more than a decade, and food shortages could worsen as the lean season hits the end of the summer, said Tomson Phiri, a spokesman for the World Food Programme, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning UN agency.
“The situation is definitely going to get worse before it gets better,” he told reporters in Geneva. “It is possible that we will see more people trying to make ends meet by migrating – it is a very, very real possibility.”
Many of those trying to come to Europe in search of more economic opportunity and greater stability and security come from the region.
“The combination of violence, insecurity, deep poverty and record food prices is exacerbating malnutrition and pushing millions to the brink of survival,” OCHA Director Martin Griffiths said in a statement.
“The recent rise in food prices caused by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine threatens to turn a food security crisis into a humanitarian disaster,” he said. These two nations are two major producers of wheat, barley and other agricultural products, and the war has almost completely stopped exports through the Black Sea.
Griffiths’ office released $30 million of its emergency relief funds for the four African countries.
Earlier this year, humanitarian groups requested $3.8 billion in aid for the region in 2022, but only 12% of the funds have been raised, OCHA said.