Decade of Sahel conflict leaves 2.5 million people displaced — Global Issues

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, agency spokesman Boris Cheshirkov said internal displacement has increased tenfold since 2013, from 217,000 to 2.1 million at the end of last year.

The number of refugees in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger now stands at 410,000, with the majority coming from Mali, where a major civil conflict erupted in 2012, leading to a failed coup and an extremist insurgency in Classes.

Increase in one year

Just last year, an upsurge in violent attacks in the region has displaced nearly 500,000 people (December figures still awaited).

According to estimates by UN partners, armed groups carried out more than 800 deadly attacks in 2021.

This violence has uprooted some 450,000 people inside their country and forced 36,000 others to flee to a neighboring country.

In Burkina Faso alone, the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) rose to over 1.5 million by the end of the year. Six out of ten displaced Sahelians are now from this country.

In Niger, the number of displaced people in the regions of Tillabéri and Tahoua has increased by 53% over the past 12 months. In Mali, more than 400,000 people are internally displaced, representing a 30% increase from the previous year.

Climate, humanitarian crisis

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating with crises on multiple fronts.

Insecurity is the main driver, compounded by extreme poverty and the COVID-19 pandemic. the the effects of the climate crisis are also being felt more strongly in the region, with temperatures rising 1.5 times faster than the global average.

Women and children are often the most affected and disproportionately exposed to extreme vulnerability and the threat of gender-based violence.

According to the UNHCR spokesperson,host communities continued to show resilience and solidarity in hosting displaced families, despite their own limited resources.”

He also said government authorities have shown an “unwavering commitment” to help the displaced, but are now “weaving under increasing pressure”.

A displaced woman picks up stones in the Kaya region of Burkina Faso.

A displaced woman picks up stones in the Kaya region of Burkina Faso., by © UNHCR/Nana Kofi Acquah

bold response

UNHCR and its humanitarian partners face increasing challenges in delivering assistance and continue to be the target of roadside attacks, ambushes and carjackings.

In this context, the agency calls on the international community to take “bold measures and spare no effort” to support these countries.

UNHCR is also leading joint UN agency and NGO efforts to provide emergency shelter, manage displacement sites and provide life-saving protection services, including addressing gender-based violence and improving access to civil status documents.

In 2021, more than a third of the agency’s funding needs for the central Sahel were not met.

This year, to mount an effective response in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, the agency needs 307 million dollars.

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