14.01.2020 | Samfund
Civilians should be the priority at the G5 Sahel Summit
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As the G5 Summit leaders meet in France on 13 January 2020 to discuss their military response to the Sahel conflict, Oxfam and partners warn of the insufficient humanitarian aid and civilians' protection and call upon leaders to put civilians' lives as a priority.
Civilians are getting caught in the crossfire. "Without humanitarian aid I can't provide for my family." - Victorine from Burkina Faso. Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui/Oxfam
In a joint statement, Oxfam, Action Against Hunger (AAH), and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said that any discussion on the effectiveness or legitimacy of the French intervention in the Sahel must not conceal the lack of protection faced by the Sahel people who are caught in the crossfire between armed groups, militias, and national or international security forces.
Despite massive investments in military interventions in the Sahel, violence increased in 2019. The year ended tragically with a massacre in Arbinda, Burkina Faso on Christmas Eve, which killed 35 civilians, including 31 women. "It’s clear that a mere military response does not work to end the conflict. We must invest in non-military solutions with and for affected communities, and urgently address their desperate humanitarian needs," said Adama Coulibaly, Oxfam Regional Director in West Africa.
Due to lack of funding in 2019, humanitarian organizations are struggling to meet the needs of vulnerable people in the Sahel.
"The military response in the Sahel is part of the problem. Last year, military operations in Mali have pushed more than 80,000 people to flee. Engagement in the Sahel must put the protection of the populations at the heart of the response," says Maureen Magee, NRC Regional Director.
"It’s clear that a mere military response does not work to end the conflict. We must invest in non-military solutions with and for affected communities, and urgently address their desperate humanitarian needs."
Given the gravity of the situation, political and military actors must first assume their responsibilities towards the civilian population by guaranteeing respect for International Humanitarian Law to and protect people without discrimination. There is a need to urgently increase the humanitarian response, while also support lasting solutions for the displaced, functioning justice systems and basic social services.
"Mass displacement, more than half a million people since the start of 2019, has contributed to almost a tripling of the number of people in food and nutritional insecurity in the central Sahel," says Mamadou Diop, Regional Director of Action Against Hunger.
"We have no access to water, we have no shelter, no resources. I can't eat every day. Without humanitarian aid I can't provide for my family," said Victorine from Burkina Faso.
Notes to editors
The Sahel crisis in numbers:
- The number of victims attacks by armed groups has increased fivefold in three years in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. More than 4,000 deaths from this violence were reported in 2019 in these 3 countries, compared to 770 deaths in 2016 (source: UN).
- In Mali, military operations pushed 80 000 people to move in 2019 (source: NRC).
- Since January, more than 1,500 civilians have been killed in Mali and Burkina Faso.
- In 2019, more than a million people - twice as many as last year - were displaced within the borders of the five countries of the Sahel.
- According to the consolidated results of the Humanitarian needs overview conducted in the 16 countries of the Sahel and West Africa, including Cameroon, nearly 10.8 million people are in dire food insecurity (Ph3-5) in the period from October to December 2019 (4.2 million Ph3-5 in the G5 Sahel countries, i.e. 5% of the situation in a crisis situation or worse). According to projections for the next lean period (June to August 2020), this figure could reach 15.5 million (for the G5 Sahel countries, 6.6 million, or 8% of the population).
- French humanitarian aid in the G5 Sahel countries represented only 2.3% of French humanitarian aid worldwide in 2017 (source: Creditor Reporting System of the OECD).
- French humanitarian aid in the G5 Sahel countries represented only 0.6% of French ODA in these same countries in 2017 (source: Creditor Reporting System of the OECD).
- Only half of the United Nations humanitarian response plan in Mali was funded in 2019: France contributed only 1.5% of the funds, while Germany contributed 9.5% (source : Financial Tracking system.
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