Meryame Kitir announces EUR 8 million in additional humanitarian aid to the Sahel

This Tuesday October 20 Minister of Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir participates to a ministerial roundtable aimed at mobilizing funding and political commitments to meet the needs in the Central Sahel region, particularly Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Jointly organized by Denmark, Germany, the European Union and the United Nations, this event aims to mobilize both humanitarian funding and political commitments to address the humanitarian challenges and growing needs in the region.

The Central Sahel is characterized by a multiplicity of complex humanitarian crises. More than 13 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, 5 million more than estimated at the beginning of the year. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the needs caused by climate shocks and violence, affecting already highly vulnerable populations. Due to food insecurity, protection needs, forced displacements, access issues, and a fragile socio-economic landscape, the situation is likely to worsen. In the cross-border region of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the number of displaced persons has risen from 70,000 to 1.4 million in less than two years. Violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, particularly violence against women and children, are increasing sharply. An estimated 6 million people felt into extreme poverty.

Minister Kitir will announce at this conference an additional Belgian contribution of EUR 8 million for this region: EUR 2.5 million for Mali through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); EUR 2.5 million for Niger (through the ICRC) and EUR 3 million for Burkina Faso (through the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees). This contribution is in addition to the humanitarian aid already confirmed for 2020 amounting to 10 million for these three countries, for a total of EUR 18 million. The priority is to protect the most vulnerable people and to improve the resilience of affected communities through programs and projects focusing on disaster risk management and reduction, food security and nutrition.

Thanks to a multi-year funding, Belgium contributes to the budget of international humanitarian organizations through their flexible funds (87 million EUR in 2020), which enables them to intervene immediately in the event of disasters or crises around the world, including in the central Sahel.

In addition, the Central Sahel region has been given a priority for a call for proposals for projects promoting the transition to development, linking humanitarian aid and development cooperation. Currently, the selection of projects to address the problem of gender-based violence in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic is under consideration.

For Minister Kitir: "Humanitarian aid saves lives, but to bring a lasting end to the suffering of the affected populations, political and long-term solutions are needed".