A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
“The world is full of dreams that became a reality when people had the determination to make them so.” These were the words of Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, on Monday as she addressed a room of government and international agency representatives summoned together for an urgent meeting on the Sahel food crisis.
And determination was behind the signatures on the joint petition that Oxfam, Avaaz and Africans Act 4 Africa handed over at the meeting to show the growing call from people around the world for a better response to the crisis.
Our petition hit 400,000 signatures during the meeting and we hope that it will soon reach one million, at which point it will be delivered to key decision makers.
Almost half way there but the world must move faster to save lives in the Sahel
The UN office for Humanitarian Affairs has increased the total appeal for the Sahel to $1.6 billion. These funds are desperately needed to provide immediate assistance to the 18.7 million people currently going hungry in the region. Right now that UN appeal is less than half funded. This is because several governments are not yet giving their fair share. We will need to keep the pressure up over the next few weeks to make sure this crisis does not tip over into a catastrophe.
During Monday’s meeting the EU announced an additonal $50 million approximately in aid for the Sahel, followed the next day by an announcement from the UK Government that they are putting a further almost $8.5 million in the pot. These additional funds mean that the UK is now meeting its fair share of contributions to the appeal - largely as a result of the sustained pressure campaigners have exerted to get the urgency of the crisis onto the Government’s agenda.
Meeting immediate needs while investing in the long-term
The crisis in the Sahel is part of a wider food story that affects us all. While it is vital that the world respond to the suffering being felt right now by families in the region, the roots of the crisis must be confronted. We call the larger story GROW and it’s at the heart of what we do. It highlights the need to invest in small-scale food producers and tackle rising food prices. We hope the success of this action will encourage you to get involved and join us as we work for a future where everyone always has enough to eat.
It will take plenty of determination on a global level to make these dreams a reality - but it is possible, and scaling up the response to the food crisis in the Sahel will take us one step closer.