Within the framework of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are joining hands to improve the livelihoods of Malian refugees and host communities whole live in and nearby the Mbera refugee camp in Eastern Mauritania.
More than 55,000 Malian refugees who fled the war in their country in 2012, are living in the Mbera camp in eastern Mauritania, roughly 60 kilometers from the border with Mali. With little or no opportunity for socio-economic integration into the local labour market, they survive mainly on humanitarian aid.
To meet their economic needs, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) joined efforts to improve living conditions of refugees and host communities through an ambitious project aiming at promoting decent employment and refugee integration in Mauritania.
Thus, in December 2018, the ILO, with the support of UNHCR, started to implement the project “Strengthening the empowerment of refugees and host populations through improved employability of young people in the construction sector”.
This project which marks the start of an ILO-UNHCR partnership in Mauritania is an operationalization of the Memorandum of Understanding and the Joint Action Plan between the two organizations. The agreement highlights the importance of the right to work for displaced population in the world, through concrete actions on the field in order to improve the living conditions of refugees and local communities.
These activities are also undertaken under the Partnership Framework with the government of Mauritania for Sustainable Development (CPDD) 2018-2022.
In their Joint action, ILO and UNHCR combine humanitarian and development approaches to achieve refugee empowerment and peaceful coexistence between refugees and host communities.
The project specifically aims to provide young refugees in the Mbera camp and the host community youth with the opportunity to have access to certified quality training in several trades of the building and public works sector and in sectors that boost local economic development.
For this reason, a polyvalent vocational training center was built in the Mbera camp, providing a learning framework that will promote the development of new skills, and the qualification and certification of young people by the national monitoring and validation learning system under the auspices of the Technical and Vocational Training Department.
So far, more than 565 young Malian refugees and Mauritanians have been trained by the project in various trades of the building and public works sector, of which 200 are already employed in the private sector. In addition, 5 cooperatives and 25 micro-enterprises have been created and strengthened since the end of 2018.
In the long term the center will train more than 6,000 refugees and young members of the host population.
Within this joint partnership UNHCR-ILO framework to support the implementation of UNISS, new projects are being implemented with support from Japan and the Bureau of Populations, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) of the United States whose focus will be on a training program in the dairy, tailoring and automobile mechanic value chain. These projects will complement other interventions such as the construction of two primary schools, two mini-dairies, a livestock and craftsmen center, and an access road to Mbera camp to facilitate the movement of people and to foster socio-economic interactions and exchanges between the different communities that live in the area.
The partnership between UNHCR and ILO constitutes a major realization that facilitates socio-economic integration through the strengthening of the entrepreneurial tissue, the development of new skills demanded by the labour market and the empowerment of the youth in the Sahel.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat opened an emergency ministerial meeting of African Health ministers today 22nd February 2020 as part of continental initiatives to enhance capacity to rapidly detect, and respond to COVID-19 on the Continent.
Convened by AfricaCDC, the Union’s technical agency on public health, in collaboration with the the World Health Organization (WHO), the ministers discussed how to strengthen preparedness and response to the outbreak by Member States. Among other objectives, the ministers:
Africa CDC also established the Africa Task Force for Novel Coronavirus (AFCOR) to coordinate preparedness and response across the continent.
AFCOR is led by representatives of Member States and has five priority areas: surveillance, infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities, clinical management of persons with severe COVID-2019 infection, risk communication and community engagement, and laboratory diagnosis and subtyping.
During the meeting, World Health Organization (WHO)Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus announced 6 global special envoys to provide strategic advice and high-level political advocacy on COVID19 around the globe, with Africa ably represented by Dr John Nkengasong, director of AfricaCDC, Dr Samba Sow, Director-General of the Centre for Vaccine Development in Mali and Prof Dr Maha El Rabbat, former Health Minister of Egypt.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak was first detected in January 2020 following the occurrence of cases from Wuhan, China. In addition to China, the disease has now been detected in 26 countries with 76 769 confirmed cases globally as of 21 February according the The World Health Organization (WHO). Last week, Egypt reported the first confirmed case of the disease in Africa.
“I wish to commend the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt for the rapid detection of the case and placing the patient in treatment at an isolation centre before it could spread any further,” said Chairperson Faki. “I also wish to reiterate the full solidarity of the Union with the people and Government of Egypt,” Chairperson Faki added.
Egypt’s swift response is also evidence of the country’s strong surveillance and preparedness capacities, which are supported by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners.
Several African countries have tested suspected cases of COVID-19, but fortunately they have thus far been found negative.
Africa CDC is the AU’s specialised technical agency mandated to support Member States strengthen their public health systems, including Preparedness and Response to disease outbreaks, has been supporting Member States to assess preparedness levels through training and re-training of public health experts across the Continent to update their knowledge and response capacities since the epidemic began.
Nigeria’s current Taekwondo champion in the 57 kg female category, Chinazum Nwosu, lost out in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers held in Rabat, Morocco.
Nigeria open gold medalist, Ifeoluwa Ajayi, also failed to pick the qualification ticket in the 68kg male category at the just concluded African qualification tournament.
The duo lost out in the crucial semifinals’ showdown against Niger Republic and Mali, respectively.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that 135 athletes from 35 African countries contested for 16 Olympics tickets, while eight of those Olympic tickets were already earned on the first day of the tournament.
The championship, which was an Olympic qualifiers, took place in Rabat, Morocco from Feb.22 and Feb. 23.
Host Morocco, Egypt, Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Gabon, Mali, Niger Republic and Kenya participated in the tournament.
Nwosu had defeated Algeria’s Soualili Nesrine Souad 20 – 3 in the quarterfinals before a shocking 10 – 33 loss to Niger Republic’s Tekiath Ben.
The African champion rebounded in the bronze medal match by defeating Ghana 18 – 0 to come away with a conciliatory bronze medal
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Anyancho picked the Olympic qualifier ticket in the 67kg female category.
Morocco and Egypt secured two Olympic tickets while the remaining four tickets were won by Nigeria, Ethopia, Cote D’ivoire and Gabon.
Edited By: Debo Oshundun/Wale Ojetimi
The Federal Government on Saturday expressed commitment to make the Yauri Boat Rigata and Cultural Festival a global brand to attract domestic and international tourists.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, dropped the hint at the 2020 Yauri Annual Rigata and Cultural Festival, held in Yauri Local Government Area of Kebbi State.
Mohammed also said the ministry was committed to ensuring that the Yauri and other festivals get their pride of place on the global calendar of festivals like the Rio Carnival in Brazil, the Festival of Colours in India, Oktoberfest in Germany, Carnival of Venice in Italy and the Lantern Festival in Taiwan.
He said the well package festivals, which showcase the rich culture of
people, from North to South and East to West, could contribute immensely to the nation’s economic and social development.
“This explains why we at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture have made it our policy to support our festivals by not only attending them, but by also helping to raise their profile through massive publicity.
“I am therefore here today with a number of media organisations as
part of the efforts to showcase the Yauri Rigata Festival to the
“We will not only showcase it in the traditional media, we will
showcase it in the social media, which has no national boundaries.
“We will make sure that the world gets to know about the pomp and
pageantry of the Yauri Rigata Festival,” the minister said.
Mohammed disclosed that the ministry was in the final stage of publishing a Calendar of National Festivals that would contain the various festivals in the country and the dates on which they are held annually.
The minister, therefore. assured that when the calendar was unveiled, the Yauri Rigata festival would occupy a pride of place in it.
He explained that the essence of the calendar was for tourists, both domestic and international, to be aware so they could plan their attendance ahead.
Mohammed also revealed that the Federal Government had started training festival managers across the country so they could be able to better organise and package festivals to attract the highest number of tourists and maximise their potentials.
“As we all know, these festivals have gone beyond mere entertainments to events that can attract massive financial inflows
into their immediate vicinity, the state in which they are located and
indeed the entire country.
“As we continue the training of festival managers, Yauri will definitely be one of the beneficiaries,” he assured.
Earlier, the Emir of Yauri, Dr Muhammad Zayyanu Abdullahi, said the festival was not only about Boat or Canoe racing but a cultural and socioeconomic jamboree of the diverse people of Yauri Emirate.
The monarch said fishermen from as far as the Republic of Mali and other neighbouring countries came to Yauri as an annual routine in order to fish in the waters.
Abdullahi commended Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State for reviving the Rigata festival after it had been dormant for more than 50 years.
On his part, Gov. Bagudu said the festival provided an opportunity for the people of Yauri Emirate to showcase their rich cultural diversity to the world.
The governor said the festival was revived following the improvement in the security situation in the state and the country at large.
“In 2019, His Royal Highness, the Emir of Yauri, decided that the security situation has improved remarkable under President Muhammadu Buhari.
“And therefore is safe enough to begin to gather people and observe this festival and we are celebrating it this year with the bigger audience,” he said.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the festival was attended by the Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila; Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Adamu Abdullahi, and traditional rulers.
The event featured the Boat Rigata; canoe swimming and competition.
The Yauri Rigata started about 200 years ago when a flotilla of boats carrying warriors used to protect bridal trains from wild animals in the river as they (bridal trains) move from one island to another in the ancient kingdom.
Edited By: Fela Fashoro/Muhammad Suleiman Tola
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the increasing signs of transmission of COVID-19 outside China indicates a narrowing of the window of opportunity to contain the virus outbreak globally.
Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, gave the warning on Saturday during the Emergency Ministerial meeting on COVID-19 organised by the African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ghebreyesus called on all countries to invest urgently in preparedness, stressing the need to take advantage of the window of opportunity available to attack the virus outbreak with a sense of urgency.
He said in a statement that though the total number of cases outside China remains relatively small, however, he expressed concern about the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link, such as travel history to China or contact with a confirmed case.
According to him, China has now reported 75,569 cases, including 2,239 deaths, saying that data from China continues to show a decline in new cases.
“This is welcome news, but it must be interpreted very cautiously. It is far too early to make predictions about this outbreak.
“Outside China, there are now 1,200 cases in 26 countries, with eight deaths. As you know, there is one confirmed case on the African continent in Egypt.
“Several African countries have tested suspected cases of COVID-19, but fortunately they have been found negative.
“We are especially concerned about the increase in cases in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where there are now 18 cases and four deaths in just the past two days,” he said.
The director-general said that WHO had supplied testing kits to Iran, and would continue to provide further support in the coming days and weeks.
“What has been reported from South Korea and Italy yesterday is also a matter of concern and how the virus is now spreading to other parts of the world.
“But in addition to that, as I said earlier in my press conference, the window of opportunity is narrowing.
“This meeting, I hope, will help us come together as a continent in attacking this virus,” he said.
Ghebreyesus averred that the outbreak had captured the world’s attention in just seven weeks of the virus detection, and rightly so, saying it has the potential to cause severe political, social and economic upheaval.
He noted that a WHO-led international team of experts including the Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, had been in China for the past week.
According to him, the experts had visited three provinces in China, and will today travel to the epicenter in Wuhan.
“With every day that passes, we know a little bit more about this virus, and the disease it causes.
“We know that more than 80 per cent of patients have mild disease and will recover.
“But the other 20 per cent of patients have severe or critical disease, ranging from shortness of breath to septic shock and multi-organ failure.
“These patients require intensive care, using equipment such as respiratory support machines that are, as you know, in short supply in many African countries, and that is a cause for concern.
“In two per cent of reported cases, the virus is fatal, and the risk of death increases the older a patient is, and with underlying health conditions,” he said.
The director-general noted that relatively few cases of the virus was seen among children, saying more research was needed to understand why.
He stressed that WHO’s biggest concern was the potential for COVID-19 to spread in countries with weaker health systems.
Ghebreyesus said that WHO Africa Regional Office, in partnership with the Africa CDC, was working hard to prepare countries in Africa for the potential arrival of the virus.
He said that Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, and Prof. Samba Sow, Director-General of the Centre for Vaccine Development in Mali, as special envoys on COVID-19, to provide strategic advice and high-level political advocacy and engagement in Africa.
“We’ve also published a Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, with a call for 675 million dollars to support countries, especially those which are most vulnerable,” the director-general said.
He added that WHO had identified 13 priority countries in Africa because of their direct links to China or their high volume of travel with China.
According to him, an increasing number of African countries are now able to test for COVID-19 with laboratory test kits supplied by WHO, compared with only one just a couple of weeks ago.
“Some countries in Africa, including DRC, are also leveraging the capacity they have built up to test for Ebola, to test for COVID-19.
“This is a great example of how investing in health system can pay dividends for health security,” he said.
The director-general disclosed that WHO had shipped more than 30,000 sets of personal protective equipment to several countries in Africa, and was ready to ship another 60,000 to 19 countries in the coming weeks.
He disclosed that about 11,000 African health workers had been trained using WHO’s online courses on COVID-19, which are available free of charge in English, French and other languages at OpenWHO.org.
Ghebreyesus said that WHO was also providing advice to countries on how to do screening, test, contact tracing and treatment for the virus.
He assured the ministers of WHO’s commitment to work with all African countries to prevent transmission, detect and treat cases as early as possible.
Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye
The African Development Bank (https://www.AfDB.org) urged development finance institutions, NGOs, farmer cooperatives, and the private sector to develop more effective financing solutions for Africa’s fertilizer value chains. The Bank’s call to action came during the Argus Africa Fertilizer Conference held on 19 February. The conference’s theme was Supporting the fertilizer value chain to improve agricultural productivity and economic growth in the region.
“Appropriate investment and financing of the entire fertilizer value chain has become a precondition for achieving our continental objectives in the area of agricultural development,” said Marie-Claire Kalihangabo, coordinator of the Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism, during a forum on the side-lines of the Conference.
AFFM is a Fund managed by the African Development Bank to accelerate agriculture development in line with the Bank’s High-5 priority, Africa Food Security Vision, the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
Bank and AFFM staff presented tools and strategies to remove pain points in the fertilizer value chains of African countries, including fertilizer guarantee instruments (http://bit.ly/2Vb3PGY), loans to support fertilizer production (http://bit.ly/32h1CLB) as well as access to inputs like seeds and crop protectants.
“The success of Africa’s agriculture agenda requires a synergistic approach that will bring down barriers and silos that are still hampering the development of the fertilizer sector in Africa,” said Mahamadou Nassirou Ba, Economic Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Participants also discussed the need for closer cooperation between development partners and commercial banks to create exclusive fertilizer financing opportunities throughout Africa and bolster small and medium enterprises in the fertilizer sector. SMEs are thought to represent the key to providing smallholder farmers with quality fertilizer.
Edward Mabaya, Manager of the Bank’s Agribusiness Development Division said digital solutions like the e-wallet in Nigeria could play a more significant role in revitalizing and connecting the fertilizer supply chain. “The digital transformation can greatly help actors of the fertilizer value chain to streamline their processes and achieve better results.” Mabaya said during the AFFM’s forum.
The Forum provided an opportunity for Mali to showcase how effective public-private collaboration and better organization of value-chain actors helped raise the country’s fertilizer use to 50kg of nutrients per hectare. In achieving this, the country met a target set in the 2006 Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer for the African Green Revolution (http://bit.ly/2P9WHGU)
“The success story of Mali’s fertilizer expansion is partly due to the presence of inter-professional committees per crop,” said Oumar Guindo, General Manager of the Toguna Agro Industries, a fertilizer company based in Mali.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday called on the army to help the continent achieve its dream of silencing the guns.
Ramaphosa, also the AU chairman, made the call while addressing the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) during the Armed Forces Day commemorations in Polokwane.
Ramaphosa, the commander in chief of SANDF, reminded the soldiers that they are commemorating the Armed Forces Day when the country have assumed the AU chairship.
“South Africa looks to the SANDF to assist us to meet our obligations with regards to supporting continental peace and security.
“We count on the SANDF as an organ mandated by the AU and the UN respectively to discharge the important responsibility of promoting peace,” said Ramaphosa.
He pointed out that the soldiers should help the continent to realise the dreams African founding fathers such as Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Democratic Republic of Congo’s Patrice Lumumba and others.
He said while Africa has made progress there are still instability in some parts of the continent which needs attention, citing Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and the Sahel as examples.
“As a continent, we have set milestones towards the attainment of a better and safer continent for all Africans, but our progress remains mixed.
“Conflict continues in several African countries, undermining our collective efforts to achieve peace and security,” said Ramaphosa.
The AU aims to end fighting in the continent this year and have a theme — Silencing the guns.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Sadiya Hamza
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Friday reported that every day, over 4,000 people flee attacks by militants in Burkina Faso, making the country the epicentre of the escalating insecurity in Africa’s Sahel region.
“The number of internally displaced people in Burkina Faso reached 765,000 after an estimated 150,000 were uprooted in the past three weeks,’’ UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, told a news conference.
Report says the north of Burkina Faso, which borders Mali and Niger, serves as a refuge for extremist groups, who regularly target the civilian population.
“People fleeing the violence report attacks on their villages by militant groups, killing, raping, pillaging,’’ Mahecic said.
The UNHCR faces difficulties in helping uprooted people because it cannot access many areas in the impoverished West African country for security reasons.
Mauritania, Mali and Niger are also caught up in the Sahel crisis.
Some of the armed groups that are active in the Sahel region have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State or al-Qaeda terrorist groups.
When UNHCR chief, Filippo Grandi, visited the affected countries earlier this month, he said that “Sahel is the place where we must intervene before this crisis becomes unmanageable’’.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Abdulfatah Babatunde
Nigeria will continue to build her capacity to respond to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, Minister of State for Health, has said.
Mamora made this known while declaring open, a Coronavirus (COVID19), Infection Prevention and Control Training of Trainers (IPC,TOT), workshop for participants from
Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde and Côte d’Ivoire.
Others are The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo,organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), on Friday in Abuja.
The training was convened on Infection Prevention and Control to strengthen COVID19 preparedness in Africa in collaboration with Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC), in support from WHO and Infection Control Africa Network ICAfricaNetwork.
Mamora said: ”In 2018, Nigeria developed a national training manual for Infection Prevention Control (IPC) which is being used in major treatment centres across the country especially in response to Lassa fever outbreaks.
“This is driven through the National Centre Disease Control (NCDC), National Infection Prevention and Control Programme on IPC practices,” he said.
The minister explained that the essence of the training was to build the capacities of the trainees and make trainers out of them, so as to have more capable hands in the
“It is important to state that what you have learned should not end here but be passed on to every health worker in your various countries towards the prevention and control of COVID-19,” he said.
He described the training, as a huge step aimed at strengthening the preparedness and response of Africa to COVID-19.
”Nigeria is pleased to host participants from across the continent particularly those from the 16 Africa Union Member States.
“This training is a big step towards strengthening the preparedness and response of Africa, to COVID-19,’’ he added
The Minister applauded the collaboration between the Africa CDC, WHO, ICAN in building the IPC capacity of Members States on COVID-19.
He further said over the years, the emergence of zoonotic diseases have been described as “predictably unpredictable” because no one can ascertained where, when and how they will occur and that COVID-19 is a clear example.
He added that since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, it has spread rapidly and widely, affecting 26 countries and more recently, Egypt.
”The declaration of COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) has ensured coordinated efforts at international, regional, national and even sub-national levels.
“There is still much to learn about COVID-19 but we know for certain that person-to-person transmission has been confirmed.
“Therefore, health workers, who are at the forefront of response activities through caring for patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, are at risk of infection.
“This makes adherence to IPC practices a priority for countries in order to protect their citizens and significantly reduce the risk of transmission within and outside the country,’’ he stressed.
Also speaking, Mr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of NCDC, said that NCDC remains committed to working with partners to strengthen COVID19 preparedness in the region.
Ihekweazu, who was represented by Mrs Elsie Ilori, Director of Surveillance and Epidemiology, NCDC, thanked the Africa CDC, WHO and ICAfricaNetwork for convening the training on IPC for African Union Member States.
“Critical to our response in Nigeria, and Africa, are health workers and Port health officials who face higher risks of infection.
“We must equip them with skills necessary for the implementation of IPC measures to ensure break in the transmission chain of coronavirus,” he said.
Mr Tajudeen Raji, representative of the Director General, Africa Centre for Disease Control, said that COVID19 was fast evolving, and experts are learning about the disease every day.
Raji said that Africa CDC task force on COVID19 had prioritised the training because they know that IPC was key to limiting spread of the disease.
He said that in addition to the training on infection prevention and control, Africa CDC would continue to intensify preparedness for COVID19 in the continent.
“So far, we have supported 15 African Union member states to establish testing capacity for COVID19.
Meanwhile, NCDC and Africa CDC in collaboration with WHO and ICAN will train representatives from across Africa on IPC for COVID-19.
NAN reports that the training end on Feb. 25, in Abuja.
It will provide participants with improved capacity for the prevention and control of COVID-19, a continuous learning opportunities and an inclusion into the COVID-19 IPC focal persons’ network for the African region.
NAN, reports that as at Feb., 20, 2020, over 75,748 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2129 deaths have been reported to WHO since 7th of January 2020.
African countries are at-risk of the ongoing epidemic because of the significant travel and trade connections with China.
OnJan. 30, the WHO Director-General declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and urged Member Countries to strengthen their preparedness for prevention and response to COVID-19.*NAN)
Edited By: Zainab Garba/Sadiya Hamza
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and partners are facing severe challenges in accessing and responding to the needs of the internally displaced people and refugees scattered throughout the Sahel region, as attacks against civilians grow in number and frequency.
In Burkina Faso, the latest attacks by militants on civilians and local authorities have been forcing a daily average of more than 4,000 people to flee their homes and search for safety since 1 January. So far, 765,000 people have already been displaced – more than 700,000 in the last 12 months. This is a tenfold increase compared to January 2019. An estimated 150,000 people have fled in the last three weeks alone.
People fleeing the violence report attacks on their villages by militant groups, killing, raping, pillaging. Terrified of these attacks, residents have left everything behind to find safety.
Over 4,400 refugees from Niger have arrived in Mali, fleeing recent string of attacks in Tillaberi and Tahoua regions, including an attack in early January in the town of Chinagodar. Refugees have found safety in the Malian towns of Andéramboukane and Ménaka. They have joined another 7,700 displaced Malians in the same area. More people continue to cross the border between Niger and Mali.
In Niger, over 11,000 fled unsafe border areas and found refuge in several towns further south, where assistance is being provided. The regions of Tillaberi and Tahoua currently host 58,000 refugees from Mali and 82,000 internally displaced.
Further north, in Mali, following the latest attack against the village of Ogossagou on 14 February, where 30 inhabitants were killed, the population is scared and eager to flee to a safer place. A monitoring mission by UNHCR partners assessed their most immediate needs. Prior to the attack, people from neighbouring villages had already found shelter in Ogossagou, despite the village having been attacked in March last year and 160 of its inhabitants massacred.
Also fleeing Mali’s central region of Segou and Niono, 1,000 Malians refugees crossed into Mauritania in the past ten days, a noticeable increase from the weekly average of fifty refugees who usually originate from Northern Mali.
Everywhere in the region, survivors of attacks, those forced to flee within their country and refugees need safety, shelter, food and water. Clothing and other basic items, including dignity kits for women and girls, are also urgently needed. Access to sanitation, to health, including psychosocial support for those who have fled or witnessed atrocities, are also priorities. The response is also aimed at host communities, as they often are the first responders despite being impoverished themselves.
Alarmed by the dramatic rise of forced displacement in the Sahel, UNHCR reiterates its call for the protection of civilian populations and those fleeing violence. Humanitarians need safe access to deliver assistance. We are already scaling up our response to the crisis, providing protection, emergency supplies for those forced to flee and communities hosting them, with an additional focus on shelter, education, sexual and gender-based violence.