UNICEF joins EU talks to scale up aid for nutrition crisis in the Sahel region of Africa

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Yoka Brandt joined the European Union in talks in Brussels to address the nutrition crisis in the Sahel region of Africa. She also welcomed a new initiative to strengthen the resilience of the people of the Sahel for the long term by helping them cope with shocks caused by food crises. In 2012, UNICEF expects to provide treatment for 1.1 million children under the age of five suffering from severe acute malnutrition in the Sahel, where an estimated 18 million people are affected by a food crisis.

NEW YORK (June 18, 2012) — UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Yoka Brandt today joined the European Union in talks in Brussels to address the nutrition crisis endangering millions of children and their families in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa. She also welcomed a new initiative to strengthen the resilience of the people of the Sahel for the long term by helping them cope with shocks caused by food crises.

Brandt said that she appreciated the announcement by the European Commission (EC) that it would increase its humanitarian aid to the Sahel. “We are in a race against the clock to save lives before the crisis hits a peak that may threaten the lives of millions of people, so this is very welcome,” she said.

In 2012, UNICEF expects to provide lifesaving treatment for 1.1 million children under the age of five suffering from severe acute malnutrition in the Sahel, where an estimated 18 million people are affected by a drought and food crisis in nine countries.

Brandt thanked the hosts of the Brussels meeting, European Commissioners Kristalina Georgieva for Humanitarian Aid and Andris Piebalgs of Development, for the support of their organizations in helping UNICEF tackle both the immediate crisis in the Sahel and its longer-term impact.

She hailed the launch by the EC of the Global Alliance for the Resilience Initiative (AGIR) to help the people of the Sahel build their resilience so they can better survive future shocks.

In the last eight months, UNICEF scaled up its assistance to growing numbers of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. With its partners, UNICEF increased the delivery of lifesaving supplies and services such as medicine, ready-to-use therapeutic food, safe water and sanitation.

Working in the Sahel for decades, UNICEF is anticipating a dramatic surge in the number of children needing assistance because the region is currently in the driest and harshest period of the year. For the rest of 2012, UNICEF requires a total of $146 million for its emergency operations to assist affected children and families in the Sahel.

“We desperately need the means to do more to save the 1.1 million children at risk of severe acute malnutrition,” said Brandt, who saw the extent of the food crisis during a recent visit to Niger.

This support will help UNICEF provide an integrated response in the region, taking into account the most pressing needs. These include the nutrition crisis and continuing instability in Mali, where 167,000 people are internally displaced and 170,000 people have fled to neighboring countries.

The Sahel nutrition crisis and UNICEF’s emergency response cover the entire territories of Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, the Sahel belt of Chad, and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal.

How to help: For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution please contact the U.S. Fund for UNICEF:
Website: www.unicefusa.org/sahel
Toll free: 1-800-FOR-KIDS
Mail: 125 Maiden Lane, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10038

As with any emergency, in the event that donations exceed anticipated needs, USF will redirect any excess funds to children in greatest need.

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.

UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org