UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has today launched a US$186 million appeal to mainly provide lifesaving protection and assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and host communities in the central Sahel region.
The appeal includes the US$97 million in initial requirements for 2020, US$29 million to implement COVID-19 prevention and response measures in displacement areas, and an additional US$60 million to scale up UNHCR’s emergency response as part of its Sahel Strategy.
Launching the appeal in Geneva, Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, highlighted the remarkable generosity of local communities but noted they are at a breaking point, particularly in Burkina Faso where the number of people internally displaced has more than quadrupled from 193,000 in June 2019 to 848,000 at the end of April.
“The emergency in the Sahel is a humanitarian and protection crisis of major proportions, where horrifying violence against vulnerable populations is becoming endemic,” said Filippo Grandi. “The risk of spillover of the conflict into neighboring coastal countries is very real and now exacerbated by Covid 19,” he added.
For people who have fled wars and persecution and for the hosts that have graciously welcomed them, the additional impact of COVID-19 on what is mostly hand-to-mouth existence has been devastating.
“We need to scale up with a comprehensive and inclusive response, that places the rights and well-being of millions of displaced people at the heart of what we do.” Grandi declared, adding: “We must act now before it is too late.”
Through this appeal, UNHCR will be able to provide more shelters to decongest the most overcrowded sites, core relief items and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, which has become widespread and aggravated by confinement and overcrowding. It will also mean supporting education, rehabilitating schools and classrooms or providing distance learning opportunities.
With climate change heavily impacting the Sahel, our response will follow a do-no-harm and eco-friendly approach, strengthening community-based preparedness to prevent climate related forced displacement; and supporting the use of clean energy as well as plastic and waste management.
There are 3.1 million refugees, IDPs, returnees and people at risk of statelessness in the Sahel. The Governments of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and Mauritania pledged to provide protection and solutions for these groups when they signed the Bamako Declaration in October 2019. Today’s appeal will allow us to operationalize this commitment as well as strengthen support to the refugees living in the region.
This appeal will be complemented by other high-level efforts from the United Nations and partners to galvanize financial and political support to the humanitarian response in the region over the coming months.
Burkina Faso B-roll:
For more information on this topic, please contact:
In Niamey, Jean-Sébastien Josset, [email protected], +227 907 669 77
In Mali, Chadi Ouanes, [email protected], +223 75 997 247
In Burkina Faso, Moussa Bougma, [email protected], +226 253 40 522
In Dakar, Romain Desclous, [email protected], +221 786 396 385
In Geneva, Babar Baloch, [email protected], +41 79 513 9549