EU humanitarian aid for Sahel and Africa’s Lake Chad countries

European Union, 2024 Photographer: Anouk Delafortrie

The European Commission is allocating €201 million in EU humanitarian funding to help the most vulnerable people affected by the humanitarian crisis in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria. Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič announced the funding during the Senior Officials Meeting on Sahel and Lake Chad in Brussels.

The funding will support food security, malnutrition assistance, healthcare, protection, water, sanitation, hygiene, shelter, education activities, and the transportation of humanitarian workers and supplies to remote and inaccessible locations. The EU’s response to humanitarian assistance will continue to prioritise countries and areas directly affected by ongoing insecurity and conflict, including the coastal countries of West Africa that the spillover from Central Sahel has impacted.

“At a critical moment for the #Sahel and #LakeChad regions, with communities driven further into a humanitarian crisis, today we have brought together the international humanitarian community to reinforce its response and to engage with finding longer-term solutions in the regions,” Commissioner Lenarčič posted on X after the Meeting.  

[© European Union, 2024]

The EU has allocated funds to support humanitarian projects in several African countries. Burkina Faso will receive €26.9 million, Cameroon €21 million, Mali €24 million, Niger €24.6 million, and Nigeria €31.5 million. Chad will receive €57.9 million, including an additional €8.7 million in response to the consequences of the conflict in Sudan and €3.1 million to support an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge operation in the East, in addition to the initial €45.3 million announced by Commissioner Lenarčič during his visit to the country at the end of January 2024. Mauritania will receive €5.7 million, including a reinforcement of €3 million allocated in January 2024 in response to the increasing number of Malian refugees in the country. The funding will also support the response to epidemics and population movement, with €2.4 million allocated through the Emergency Toolbox, an instrument dedicated to emergency response for vulnerable people outside the EU.

“Insecurity, violence and over a decade of armed conflict is driving communities in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions to new depths of suffering. Today, over 35 million people across these regions are in need of aid, while the humanitarian crisis is now spilling over into West Africa’s coastal countries. At the same time, we are facing an increasingly shrinking response capacity and humanitarian access. It is therefore crucial that the international community scales up its efforts to bridge the growing gap between human need and available resources. The EU is doing its part by increasing its pledge for 2024 to over 200 million euros across the 2 regions. I urge the rest of the international community to play it part,” the Commissioner said.

Insecurity and violence, a plague for the Sahel

The humanitarian situation in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions is critical. In 2024, over 35 million people in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria will require humanitarian assistance. That means one in five people in the Central Sahel countries. Unfortunately, the crisis is significantly underfunded, with only about one-third of the required funds received in 2023 for the three Central Sahel countries. Insecurity and violence are the main causes of the crisis, leading to severe consequences for the affected population, including food insecurity, forced displacement, and disruptions to essential services.

The ongoing armed conflicts have resulted in a major food and nutrition crisis, with over 46 million people projected to be in a food crisis between June and August 2024, a 105% increase compared to the average over the last five years. Additionally, more than 10 million internally displaced persons and refugees are currently in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions, and over 12,000 schools have been closed due to insecurity, affecting more than 2.2 million children.

Access to conflict-affected areas for aid delivery remains limited due to rules imposed by armed groups and regular armed forces, including denial of access, movement restrictions, bureaucratic impediments, and abductions of humanitarian staff. Although the humanitarian community is present, the assistance provided is insufficient to cover the needs, and national regulations hinder the capacity of humanitarian actors to deliver life-saving aid in some cases. Both humanitarian aid and development assistance will be necessary to address these needs.

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