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Sahel hunger could turn into humanitarian catastrophe--UN warns

Valerie Amos, UN humanitarian chiefValerie Amos, UN humanitarian chief (Photo: un.org)
May 25, 2012

The head of the United Nations Humanitarian Coordination office, Valerie Amos has warned that hunger could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in the Sahel region of West Africa.

Some 18 million people are said to be facing serious food crisis in this region, with Niger being the worst hit. Growing insecurity and instability in some parts of the region, especially in Mali has even exacerbated the already serious food and humanitarian crisis.

Speaking during a visit to Senegal on Thursday, Amos called for strong leadership, comprehensive response plan and donor support for the food crisis in West Africa’s Sahel region.

She also warned that the next three weeks will be crucial in bringing much needed relief to about eighteen million people facing hunger across eight countries in West Africa.

The UN humanitarian chief and emergency relief coordinator said the U.N. and its partners have raised half of the nearly one billion US dollars needed to fund humanitarian relief operations in West Africa’s Sahel region.

But she urged donors to make an extra effort during her visit to Senegal, where about 810,000 people are facing hunger.

Her visit is part of a tour of West Africa to raise awareness of the food crisis in the Sahel region. Speaking in Senegal’s western region of Diourbel, Valerie Amos said the UN support goes far beyond providing foodstuffs to the affected population…

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In the Ivory Coast, the humanitarian situation is improving in Western part of the country, one of the areas most affected by the country’s post election violent conflict, said UNICEF Representative there has said.

Speaking during an assessment of the humanitarian situation in the area, Ludovic De Lys cautioned that though the humanitarian situation was getting better, people should not rely too much on this positive report, because Ivory Coast is not shielded from food shortage and malnutrition of children.

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