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Sahel emergency


Sahel emergency

The central Sahel region has been facing a severe humanitarian and protection crisis that has already forced over 4 million people from their homes.

The situation is worsening thanks to the impacts of the climate crisis, which is aggravating conflict over scarce resources.
Nigerian refugees carry plastic sheeting to cover shelters at Sayam Forage refugee camp in Diffa, Niger.

“I was so frightened. The whole family – including my grandmother, aunt, and my husband’s brothers and sisters – met up and left the village. We set off on foot without any belongings. There were about 40 of us, and it took us 20 hours to reach Ouahigouya.”

–Aguiratou, internally displaced woman from northern Burkina Faso

The central Sahel region, encompassing Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, is facing a severe humanitarian and protection crisis that has driven millions of people from their homes. The political, security, and economic situation, characterized by political instability, is only getting worse. 

While over half a million people have been forced to flee their countries as refugees, over 3.8 million people are internally displaced within their own countries. Restrictions on movement and economic challenges continue to exacerbate the fragilities of the overall resilience of populations. 

The region is also on the front lines of the climate crisis, with temperatures increasing at 1.5 times the global average. This is aggravating conflicts over scarce resources and making life harder for those already forced to flee. 

Number of refugees and other people of concern to UNHCR in the Sahel region

Hover over blue circles for information.

What is UNHCR doing to help?

In this challenging environment, UNHCR is working to meet the changing needs of displaced populations in a context of insecurity and constrained access,  while strengthening partnerships with national and local humanitarian actors, as well as with civil society organizations, who are often the first responders.

UNHCR is delivering a protection-centred response that includes registration, access to asylum, gender-based violence prevention, child protection, education, provision of documentation (including for those at risk of statelessness), and the provision of shelter and core relief items. 

In the context of climate change, environmental sustainability takes a central role in UNHCR's interventions via climate-smart agriculture, renewable energy and the integration of climate into risk analysis and assessment.

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Are you a refugee or asylum-seeker? Find information about your rights and available services on our HELP site.

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Are you looking for data on displacement in the Sahel region? Visit the UNHCR data portal for the latest data and statistics on refugees and other displaced persons.

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Operational updates

For information on UNHCR's operational response, budgets and funding, please visit the Sahel situation page on Global Focus.

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