Over 30 million people will require assistance in 2022
As the Sahel crisis 1 rapidly worsens, the region’s humanitarian needs are reaching unprecedented heights. Conflict, climate shocks, chronic vulnerabilities and endemic poverty are putting millions at risk. Increasing violence has forced more people to flee their homes than ever before.
A dramatic food crisis is wreaking havoc on conflict-affected areas while the already precarious nutrition situation is further deteriorating, and access to livelihoods and basic social services is hampered. The fragility of institutions and the poor governance as well as the weak regional integration limit trade exchanges and negatively impact the free movement of people and goods.
Over 30 million Sahelians, most of whom are women and children, will require lifesaving assistance and protection in 2022, an increase of almost two million from 2021. Burkina Faso, Cameroon (Far North), Chad, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria (North-East) have developed Response Plans for 2022, requiring a total of US $3.8 billion. To scale up aid operations, coordination, adequate resources, and a principled response are all critical.
Insecurity and violence have multiple cascading effects that affect the lives of millions of people
Armed conflict remains the main driver of needs in the region. Multi-year security trends confirm a context of degradation in the Central Sahel2 and the Lake Chad Basin. Since 2015, the number of security incidents in the Central Sahel has increased eighteen-fold, with the number of fatalities increasing more than twelve-fold and security incidents in the Lake Chad Basin doubling.3 Violence has multiple cascading effects that affect the lives of millions of people, resulting in significant humanitarian needs and extensive damage to services, existing local protection mechanisms, and socio-economic infrastructure, as well as disrupting the future of youth, particularly girls. This occurs in a context where civil status, education, and maternal mortality are already among the most challenging in the world.
Insecurity and violence are threatening lives and livelihoods, disrupting access to health, education and water, sanitation, and hygiene services, as well as civil documentation and housing, land and property rights, depriving violence-affected communities of vital services and land, increasing human rights violations, gender-based violence, and sexual abuses, and jeopardizing social cohesion, resulting in a vicious cycle of vulnerability.
2.4 million people displaced in the Central Sahel as of the end of May 2022
Violence in the Central Sahel and the Lake Chad basin shows no signs of abating: security incidents, attacks, and kidnappings are daily occurrences for millions of civilians caught up in conflict, between armed groups, the state, and military operations and in intercommunal violence, and forced to flee their homes in search of safety. Conflict and worsening insecurity in the Sahel have driven over 6.3 million people from their homes, more than ever before.
As of the end of May 2022, the number of people displaced by the crisis in the Central Sahel reached 2.4 million, with women and children accounting for more than half.
This represents a 40 per cent increase in a single year, and a 56 per cent increase in Burkina Faso, the country with the highest caseload in the region. The Central Sahel is a region characterized by mixed migrations with large refugee populations, creating a complex protection environment.
For example, in addition to the 370,548 internally displaced persons in Mali at the end of April 2022, the country was hosting nearly 13,000 refugees from Niger and over 17,000 refugees from Burkina Faso.
More people are displaced than ever before across the Lake Chad. As of the end of May 2022, countries in the Lake Chad Basin5 were hosting an estimated 5.3 million displaced persons, refugees, and returnees seeking refuge from the region’s complex and compounded crises. About 75 per cent of this caseload is based in Nigeria.
Internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees often live in unsafe conditions with inadequate shelter in flood-prone locations, and with high risk of fire outbreaks. For far too many women and girls in places of displacement, gender-based violence is a daily occurrence. Forced marriage and child marriage, physical and sexual violence, and sexual exploitation all contribute to thousands of people feeling trapped and powerless, especially women and girls.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, these densely populated areas face increased risks of disease transmission.
In addition, displacement often occurs in areas with scarce services and resources, putting additional pressure on already highly vulnerable communities and increasing the likelihood of further instability. Coping strategies for displaced populations vary according to age and gender. Women and children are exposed to negative coping mechanisms with major protection and gender-based violence risks. Men are more likely to face physical violence, death, or arbitrary arrest and may displace their families and opt for pendular movements, transferring some tasks to women and children.