Norway to provide NOK 390 million to support crisis-affected people in the Sahel

A deterioration in the security situation, climate change and the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are causing immense suffering and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the Central Sahel region. Norway is announcing a contribution of NOK 390 million at a digital donor conference today.

Around 13 million people in Burkino Faso, Mali and Niger are in need of emergency humanitarian aid. Some 1.4 million of these have been forced to flee their homes. The UN, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and other humanitarian organisations have launched major emergency appeals, and there is an urgent need to get aid to the affected areas.

‘We therefore intend to increase our support to the Sahel region for the period 2020-2022,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Ms Eriksen Søreide is participating in a digital ministerial round table today entitled ‘Responding to Humanitarian Challenges in a Long-term Perspective in the Central Sahel’. The round table is part of a high-level humanitarian event organised jointly by the UN, Denmark, Germany and the EU. It will be co-hosted by UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Rasmus Prehn and German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas. Representatives and ministers from the affected countries and key donor countries, and representatives of UN organisations and civil society will also take part.

‘A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the Central Sahel. This crisis is rapidly increasing in scale and is being largely overlooked. Norway is therefore doing its part to mobilise greater international engagement and increased funding for humanitarian efforts to prevent the situation from deteriorating further,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.    

‘Norway will provide NOK 111 million from its humanitarian budget for 2020, and we will maintain a minimum of NOK 100 million a year in humanitarian support over the next two years,’ Ms Søreide said.

‘We will also provide new contributions of close to NOK 79 million for efforts to promote peace, food security and education in addition to this,’ said Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein.

‘This is a region that is facing complex challenges, and an integrated effort to address these is urgently needed. In our Sahel strategy, we have emphasised the importance of ensuring that our humanitarian support is coordinated with our efforts to promote development, secure peace and improve living conditions. Norway is therefore providing funding from its humanitarian budget as well as additional support for more long-term development efforts from its development budget. These funds will be targeted at areas such as education in crisis situations, food security and efforts to promote peace and provide security for the population,’ Mr Ulstein said.     

By providing this support, Norway, in cooperation with its humanitarian partners, will help to alleviate suffering, protect vulnerable groups and reduce fragility. The Foreign Minister emphasised the importance of ensuring respect for international humanitarian law and the humanitarian principles in this work.

‘Safe and unhindered humanitarian access is crucial to be able to protect civilians, to provide education for children and young people, and to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV),’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.   Norway has strengthened its engagement and presence in the Sahel region in recent years. The Embassy in Bamako was opened in January 2018 and a strategy for Norway’s efforts in the Sahel region was launched the same year. Norway’s development cooperation in the region is concentrated on Mali and Niger, which are both identified as partner countries in Norway’s development policy. In 2019, Norway’s support to the Sahel region totalled approximately NOK 1 billion.

‘We need to mobilise the entire international community to assist the countries in the Central Sahel in responding to this difficult crisis,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said. ‘Norway stands in solidarity with the people of the Sahel and will continue to support international efforts to promote peace, stability and development in the region, including through our work on the UN Security Council,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.