The European Commission this week pledged $27.8 million in humanitarian support to the Sahel region as floods and the coronavirus pandemic exacerbate the stability in a region deeply in conflict. While the figure is less than 2 percent of the $2.4 billion that the United Nations has appealed for, Amnesty International researcher Ousmane Diallo told IPS that despite past donations from international development partners to Sahelian countries, the situation hasn’t improved over the years.
In June, Amnesty International released a that pointed out a range of concerns in the region that have been exacerbated by the pandemic: human rights violations, food insecurity, and enforced disappearances among other concerns.
In the less than two years, internal displacement in the region has increased 20 times.
Diallo of Amnesty International echoed similar concerns and added that a “a plethora of armed groups acting in the Sahel have increased over the years.” He explained, "This is because the structural issues have not been challenged,” Diallo told IPS. “Because there have been a lot of donations given to Sahelian countries, many activities done by international development partners, but the situations on the ground haven’t improved. There are more internally displaced persons (IDPs) on the ground, and more refugees.”
The crisis in the region has been further exacerbated by both climate change, as well as the current coronavirus pandemic. Mark Lowcock, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said climate change in the Sahel region is accelerating faster than anywhere else in the world.One key concern, he said, is that the “root causes that drive humanitarian needs” — such as chronic poverty, underdevelopment, impact of dramatic development growth, and climate change among other issues — are not being properly addressed.