WASHINGTON — The United States will give $120 million in emergency aid for western Africa’s drought-hit Sahel region in hope of preventing severe hunger, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said late Thursday.
Clinton announced the aid after a UN appeal in February for $725 million in urgent assistance for the Sahel, the latest food concern in Africa following a famine believed to have killed tens of thousands in Somalia last year.
The Sahel – which includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – has been hit hard by a drought, high food prices and regional conflict.
Clinton said that the United States was making the contribution “in response to current needs, including protection and assistance for refugees, and to prevent a potentially much more serious situation.” With the announcement, the United States is providing nearly $200 million in humanitarian assistance to the Sahel in the current fiscal year, Clinton said in a statement.
The assistance comes despite a US decision to suspend non-humanitarian assistance to Mali after a mutiny by army soldiers ousted the elected government last week.
UN agencies have voiced concern about a shortfall of funding for the Sahel. UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, recently warned that up to 1.5 million children under five risked severe malnutrition. — AFP