15/06/2012 – Over 18 million people, including one million children, in the Sahel region of West Africa are now in the midst a severe food crisis. Facing this reality the European Commission has called for a meeting gathering the affected countries and the international community to mobilise efforts so that assistance reaches as many of these people as possible before the crisis peaks in the coming weeks. A joint effort will be needed to address the needs and to help the Sahel countries strengthen their resilience to future crises.
The European Commission is the leading humanitarian donor in this year's Sahel food crisis contributing a total of €288 million. These funds are reaching nearly 7 million people. The Commission provided support as soon as the warning signs for hunger began to flash in 2011. Successfully translating early warning into early action has already saved thousands of lives. The Commission remains at the forefront of international efforts to reduce emergency needs leading up to the peak of the crisis in the coming weeks.
Present at Monday's meeting will be international donors, representatives from several of the affected Sahel countries -Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and Nigeria- as well as international and local organisations. Among the delegates will be Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Yoka Brandt, the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Nancy Lindborg, the Assistant Administrator for Democracy at USAID.
The meeting could not be timelier or more important given that communities in the Sahel are set to enter the peak of the food crisis, and discussions on resilience and breaking the cycle of drought are gathering pace.
Two sessions of the proceedings due to begin on Monday, June 18th will be web-streamed, at 9.30 to 10.30 and 12.10 to 13.00.