United Nations, Jan 28 (IANS): A confluence of crises in the central Sahel means 15 million people will need humanitarian assistance in the African region this year, Martin Griffiths, the UN emergency relief coordinator, said.
Climate change, increasing political instability, lack of sustainable development opportunities, poverty, and Covid-19 in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are to blame, he said.
The 15 million in need is a hike of 4 million more than those needing relief last year, reports Xinhua news agency.
Griffiths called it an "extraordinary increase in only one year".
He said it means, "in 2022, we will need close to $2 billion for the humanitarian response in these three countries".
The emergency relief coordinator spoke during a virtual meeting on the central Sahel, following a visit last week to northeast Nigeria, on the edge of the region.
"I had the chance to see for myself some of the difficulties people endure," he said.
"The stories they told me are emblematic of the struggles people across the central Sahel face: violence, repeated displacement, and difficulty finding sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families."
Griffiths called for more focus on resilience, sustainable solutions and cooperation across the humanitarian and development sector and peace efforts to make real progress.
"The central Sahel is one of the most dangerous places in the world for aid workers," he said.
"One-third of all abductions of aid workers in the world in 2020 occurred in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
"And yet, even in the face of this insecurity and danger, I met humanitarian workers ... whose dedication, professionalism and commitment to the people they serve is absolutely astonishing," Griffiths added.