Norway steps up humanitarian assistance to the Sahel

Norway is increasing its humanitarian assistance to the Sahel to NOK 70 million in 2016. ‘The humanitarian situation in the Sahel region is dire. Food and nutrition crises, armed conflicts, climate change and rapid population growth are all taking their toll,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende, who visited Mali this week.

Mr Brende visited the Malian capital, Bamako, together with Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.

‘With this significant contribution, Norway is sending a clear signal about its increased humanitarian support to the Sahel countries,’ Mr Brende said.

The humanitarian assistance provided by Norway will be channelled through the UN, aid organisations and the Red Cross system. Mr Brende also announced support of NOK 70 million for education in the Sahel, and NOK 20 million for efforts to strengthen the police and the judicial system in northern Mali.

One in six people in the Sahel does not have enough to eat, and around six million children in the region are suffering from malnutrition. The future prospects of millions of families in the Sahel are very uncertain. In addition to the chronic challenges of food insecurity, malnutrition and epidemics, violent conflicts in the region are forcing growing numbers of people to flee their homes.   

The UN has estimated that close to USD 2 billion is needed to meet humanitarian needs in the Sahel region in 2016. So far, only 10 % of this amount has been provided by international donors. 

‘Norway shares the international community’s concern about developments in the Sahel. The humanitarian needs are immense, as one crisis gives way to the next. Many people are also having to live with the constant threat of violent extremism,’ Mr Brende said.

The civilian population in the unstable Sahel region has suffered crisis after crisis for many years, as a result of both armed conflict and natural disasters. In several of the countries in the region, governance is weak and there are major humanitarian challenges. At present, the future prospects of the rapidly growing young population are gloomy. This is leading to an increase in migration, and at the same time creating a breeding ground for organised crime, smuggling and terrorism.