The European Union (EU) has announced a humanitarian aid package worth 191.3 million euros for Nigeria and other seven Africa’s Sahel countries.
A statement by Mr Modestus Chukwulaka, the Press Officer to Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria and ECOWAS, stated this on Wednesday in Abuja.
Chukwulaka quoted EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, as saying that Sahel region experiences its worst food and nutrition crisis in five years and continued insecurity.
“There is no time to waste with many affected by a worsening food security crisis in the Sahel.
“Our EU aid will throw a lifeline to the most vulnerable.
“Our new support aims to reach more than 1.1 million people in need of emergency food assistance while supporting treatment to over 650,000 severely malnourished children,’’ said Stylianides.
According to him, the assistance announced will go to eight countries in the region which include Nigeria with 35.3 million euros, Burkina Faso with 11.1 million euros and Chad with 40.2 million euros.
Others are Mali with 35.3 million euros, Mauritania with 11.4 million euros, Niger 32.2 million euros, Senegal with one million euros and Cameroon with 13.9 million euros.
The commissioner said that in addition, regional funds amounting to 10.8 million euros would also be allocated.
He said EU funding will also support disaster risk reduction initiatives that can help populations better prepare for natural hazards.
“The European Union is one of the largest contributors of humanitarian aid to the Sahel.
“In 2017, the EU allocated 240.8 million euros in humanitarian assistance to the people living in the region, covering essential food assistance to vulnerable households.
“It also covered treatment for severely malnourished children and health assistance, water and sanitation, shelter and protection,’’ he said.
He explained that the humanitarian situation in the Sahel, among the poorest regions in the world, was extremely fragile.
“Nearly 11.8 million people across the eight countries of the region need immediate food assistance to avoid facing acute hunger, women and children being hit the hardest.
“Up to four million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition and need lifesaving treatment, a 20 per cent increase compared to last year.
“The situation is deteriorating fast as thousands of families exhausted their food reserves four months earlier than usual and the next harvest is only in September.’’
According to him, while humanitarian needs in the Sahel are immense, the EU continues to promote joint efforts with development partners in order to build long-term resilience in the region.
“The EU, together with its member states, is the biggest provider of development assistance to the region with 8 billion euros from 2014 to 2020,” he said.