NEW YORK, 8th December, 2016 (WAM) — The United Nations and its partner non-governmental organisations has launched an appeal for US$2.66 billion to provide emergency assistance across eight countries in the Sahel region, the Saharan region that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, where “millions of people still live in conditions of deplorable human suffering.”

Toby Lanzer, UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, said, “The Sahel faces considerable challenges and will remain the site of one of the world’s major humanitarian operations in 2017, which aims to cover the needs of 15 million people across Africa’s Sahel region, which includes Chad, Mali, Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal.”

He said the lives and livelihoods of millions of suffering people in the region will be at stake unless the humanitarian community, governments and donors renew their engagement to assist and protect those in urgent need and help these communities become less vulnerable to shocks.

The UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 4.9 million people in Sahel have fled from their homes, while one in every five families remains extremely vulnerable. In addition, Chad and parts of north-east Nigeria are experiencing critical levels of malnutrition, as high as 30 percent, which is double the ’emergency’ threshold.

Mr. Lanzer also stressed that nearly 11 million people in the Lake Chad basin area require emergency assistance and financial needs have almost tripled since year, adding that there is also half a million severely malnourished children in need of urgent help. He also highlighted a stable but worrying situation in Mali due to insecurity.

The Regional Humanitarian Coordinator stressed the commitment of UN agencies and their partners to providing urgent assistance to affected individuals, their families and communities, while also promising to continue strong collaboration with governments, development and stabilisation actors.