Millions suffer ‘severe’ food insecurity in Burkina, Mali, Niger: rights group


ABIDJAN, May 6, 2024 (AFP) – The number of people suffering from “severe” food insecurity in the military-ruled Sahel nations of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger has jumped to 7.5 million people, the US International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned on Monday.

“The magnitude of severe food insecurity and related malnutrition continues to intensify in the region,” said the group that helps those facing conflict and disaster.

“In the Central Sahel alone (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger), 7.5 million people are affected, up from 5.4 million last year.”

About 70 million people live in the three nations, which are all fighting jihadist violence.

The situation could yet worsen, and spread to Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria during the June-August harvests, IRC said in a statement.

“In West and Central Africa, food insecurity has progressively worsened in the last five years,” said IRC West African regional vice-president Modou Diaw.

“Climatic shocks exacerbate food insecurity, malnutrition and insecurity, and push youth, men, and women, to migrate both within and out of the region,” he added.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, which was put under regional economic sanctions after a coup last July, are all on the UN list of the least developed nations in the world.

The three nations have pushed out troops from France, the former colonial ruler, and in September set up a mutual defence pact, the Alliance of Sahel States, turning increasingly to Russia for support.

On Saturday, more Russian military advisers arrived in Niger, bringing military equipment but also food and basic goods.