US releases $80 million in humanitarian aid for Sahel

Aid is intended to address mass displacement throughout West Africa

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 19: (L-R) German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas and French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian arrive speak to the media ahead of the Sahel Coalition Conference on March 19, 2021 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Stefanie Loos - Pool/Getty Images)

The US on Friday said it would provide more than $80 million in humanitarian assistance to the Sahel to mitigate crises in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

“US humanitarian assistance will provide critical protection, economic opportunity, shelter, essential healthcare, emergency food assistance, safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“This life-saving assistance is critical for the survival of nearly three million refugees and internally displaced people and it helps host communities across the Sahel.”

The 2012 uprising in Mali spilt over into neighbouring states, creating a breeding ground for religious extremists in countries such as Burkina Faso and Niger. The sharp rise in violence, coupled with the effects of climate change in the increasingly arid region, has displaced millions of people throughout West Africa.

This week, a group of armed fighters killed 58 civilians in an attack on a bus and villages in Niger near the border with Mali. No group has claimed responsibility for the incident.

The Biden administration made its commitment at a Coalition for the Sahel meeting, which included the participation of a group of five Sahel states and international backers led by France.

“The United States is the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance, both in the Sahel region and globally,” Mr Price said. “The urgent humanitarian needs in the Sahel call for sustained and co-ordinated donor support to help those in need.”

“The United States government appreciates the contributions made by donors to date and calls on those donors who have not yet stepped up to urgently support the humanitarian response in the Sahel.”

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