GENEVA, 08 July 2020 / PRN Africa / -- When the outbreak of COVID-19 led to a global ceasefire, the fighting in the Sahel region continued unabated. In the Liptako Gourma region, which straddles Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the security situation and humanitarian crisis have deteriorated significantly in recent months. The front lines are constantly changing, which means people are always on the move in search of safety.
Conflict is not the only danger they face; climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are also affecting the lives of millions. Patrick Youssef, the ICRC's regional director for Africa, underlines the urgent need to help those people whose situation has become desperate, and to create a space that is conducive to development.
In the Sahel, armed violence, food shortages, the weak presence or complete absence of public authorities and the economic crisis have led to more than a million people being displaced, while others have decided to join armed groups.
In Burkina Faso, weapons confer power and are leading to unprecedented levels of violence. More than 900,000 people have fled the fighting, leaving behind their homes and livelihoods. People who have been arrested have gone missing, villages have been pillaged, and schools and hospitals destroyed. As compliance with international humanitarian law has been eroded, public authorities have faded into the background and basic services have been withdrawn. In the province of Oudalan, 29 health-care centres have closed, leaving nearly 300,000 people without access to primary health care. People's needs are huge, which is why we are supporting health-care centres in the most hard-to-reach areas and distributing aid and hygiene supplies to the most vulnerable people in detention centres and displacement camps.
Distributing humanitarian aid in conflict zones is a risky business and extremely complex in logistical terms, particularly as the region is so vast. As a neutral and impartial intermediary, we are negotiating our presence with all parties to the conflict – with national armed forces, international forces and non-state armed groups. We are reminding them of their legal obligations to respect
SOURCE International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)