UN News Service/allAfrica

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the global community to act quickly to address what he described as a “cascading crisis” sweeping the Sahel region of West Africa, where 15 million people have been affected by the drought and conflict-related crisis in the area.

“I call upon the world to respond. Simply put, we must do more – and do it quickly,” Mr. Ban said in an address to the Luxembourg Parliament. “Across the region, we see growing conflict and unrest, more people being displaced, rising food and fuel prices and severe drought.

“The statistics are sobering: 15 million people are directly affected. More than 200,000 children died of malnutrition last year – and another one million are threatened right now,” he added.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the food and nutrition crisis facing countries in West Africa’s drought-prone Sahel region has continued to deteriorate at an alarming rate this year despite commendable early response efforts by governments and international aid agencies. The worsening food shortages and malnutrition have been compounded by conflict and insecurity.

In his remarks to the Parliament, the UN chief said events in Libya have made an already difficult security and humanitarian situation even worse.

“Many thousands returned home to the Sahel. Some were migrant workers, but others are armed fighters criminal elements bringing with them large quantities of light and heavy weapons and ammunition,” he noted, adding that in Mali, the Tuareg rebellion in the north has uprooted at least 200,000 people.  Read more…