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Sahel: Millions at risk with hunger and displacement on the rise

United Nations, Feb 17 (Prensa Latina) The number of people on the brink of starvation across Africa’s Sahel region is ten times higher than it was in 2019, the World Food Program (WFP) is warning, while the number of people who are displaced is up by 400%.

The Sahel, which runs south of the Sahara desert, is encompassing Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, is currently experiencing some of its driest conditions in years. Hunger is expected to affect 10.5 million people this year, including over a million teetering on the edge of starvation, in the five countries.

“An absolute crisis is unfolding before our eyes,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley on a visit to Benin, having inspected WFP operations in Niger and Chad. “I’ve been talking with families who have been through more than you can possibly imagine. They´ve been chased from their homes by extremist groups, starved by drought and plunged into despair by Covid-19’s economic ripple effects.”

Beasley added: “We’re running out of money, and these people are running out of hope.”

This is up from 3.6 million in 2019, including 141,000 people who were on the brink of starvation. The current crisis is expected to outpace previous years’ due to compounding factors including insecurity, an increase in poverty due to the coronavirus pandemic, and dramatic increases in the cost of staple foods.