By LAIDE AKINBOADE
Worried by continued food and nutrition crisis, and continued insecurity in the last five years in the Sahel region, the European Union (EU) Commission has announced a humanitarian aid package worth €191.3 million for the region.
According to a statement issued by the commission in Abuja, eight countries, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Senegal, Mauritania and Mali, are to benefit from money, with Nigeria getting €35.3 million.”The assistance announced today will go to eight countries in the region: Burkina Faso (€11.1 million), Chad (€40.2 million), Cameroon (€13.9 million), Mali (€35.3 million), Mauritania (€11.4 million), Niger (€32.2 million), Nigeria (€35.3 million), and Senegal (€1 million). In addition, regional funds amounting to €10.8 million will also be allocated. EU funding will also support disaster risk reduction initiatives that can help populations better prepare for natural hazards,” the statement indicated.
The money, the EU said, would be used to reach at least 1.1 million vulnerable people that are in dire need of emergency food assistance.
“There is no time to waste with many affected by a worsening food security crisis in the Sahel. Our EU aid will throw a lifeline to the most vulnerable. Our new support aims to reach more than 1.1 million people in need of emergency food assistance while supporting treatment to over 650,000 severely malnourished children.
“The European Union is one of the largest contributors of humanitarian aid to the Sahel. In 2017, the EU allocated €240.8 million in humanitarian assistance to the people living in the region, covering essential food assistance to vulnerable households, treatment for severely malnourished children, as well as health assistance, water and sanitation, shelter and protection”, said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.
It would be recalled that the humanitarian situation in the Sahel, which is among the poorest regions in the world, is extremely fragile. Nearly 11.8 million people across the eight countries of the region need immediate food assistance to avoid facing acute hunger, women and children being hit the hardest. Up to 4 million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition and need lifesaving treatment, a 20 percent increase compared to last year. The situation is deteriorating fast as thousands of families exhausted their food reserves four months earlier than usual and the next harvest is only in September.
The EU, together with its Member States, is the biggest provider of development assistance to the region with €8 billion over 2014-2020.