New York — UNICEF urgently requires $146 million to address the humanitarian needs of children and women in the Sahel in 2012, according to a new Humanitarian Action Update for the region.
UNICEF emergency appeals for the Sahel secured $93 million against a revised requirement of $239 million. More funds are urgently needed reflecting the increasing needs to expand a fully integrated response to the nutrition crisis, a deteriorating emergency in Mali and an upsurge of cholera and other epidemics across the region.
Millions of children across nine countries of the Sahel are at risk of malnutrition and other threats. Now at the height of the lean season, over 4 million children are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition this year, including nearly 1.1 million children who will face life-threatening severe acute malnutrition.
This is exacerbated by limited access to health, water, hygiene and sanitation, protection and education services in the region.
A refugee and displacement crisis from northern Mali further complicates the situation, placing over 320,000 people in need of assistance and protection. About 150,000 people - a large majority of them children and women - have been internally displaced, with insecurity threatening their access to aid.
Another 171,000 people have fled into neighbouring Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger, increasing the strain on already stretched communities coping with the food security and nutrition crisis, as well as a lack of access to basic social services.
These families urgently require access to nutrition services, health care and preventive interventions, safe drinking water, education, as well as a protective environment.
Simultaneously, cholera remains a recurrent threat throughout the region, requiring its own response as well as exacerbating the nutrition and refugee situations. Even before the rainy season, cholera outbreaks have already been reported in Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.
Further outbreaks are anticipated with the coming rains in Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mali. Increasing numbers of meningitis, measles and polio cases have been also reported. Malnutrition, displacement and outbreaks also result in lost schooling and increased risk of child exploitation and abuse.