IMF warns millions face humanitarian emergency in W Africa

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank on Saturday raised the alarm on the "humanitarian emergency" in West Africa's Sahel region, where millions risk starvation amid regional insecurity, drought and poor harvests.

"We are troubled by the acute humanitarian emergency in the Sahel region where hunger threatens the lives of 19-million people and the stability of the region," said a statement from the organisations' joint development committee.

"Food security and food price volatility remain persistent threats to development and merit continued attention."

The IMF and World Bank, which are holding annual meetings in Tokyo, called for accelerated efforts to help millions in the vast desert area "permanently escape the cycle of emergency aid".

The Sahel stretches across a swathe of west Africa, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

The warning came amid preparations for an international military intervention aimed at reconquering northern Mali – home to the fabled city of Timbuktu – which was seized by Islamist rebels earlier this year.

In March, a military coup in the capital Bamako toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure, with the vast country's north and east falling to Tuareg rebels and militias linked to Al-Qaeda.

This year, more than 18-million people in the region have been hit by a severe food crisis, with some 1.1-million children facing acute malnutrition, according to the UNited Nation (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The instability in northern Mali has led 400 000 people to leave their homes, with more than half fleeing into neighbouring countries, straining the infrastructure of already poor western African nations.  – Sapa.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Sapa Afp
Guest Author

Related stories


press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday