Escalating Conflict, Mass Displacement in the Central Sahel Require Concerted Action

Amarcia, one of the 1.5 million people internally displaced by conflict in the Central Sahel. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac

Geneva – A dramatic surge in violence in the Central Sahel this year has led to a worrying increase in fatalities and displacement across Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) joins the international community and UN partners to call for concerted action to resolve the multi-layered crisis affecting more than 13 million people at today’s Ministerial Round Table for the Central Sahel

Conflict in the three countries has caused rates of internal displacement to increase more than twentyfold since 2018, uprooting over 1.5 million people – according to data from national authorities, IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix and partner agencies.

“Today, we continue to witness daunting mass displacement, rights violations, and limited access to basic services, particularly for the most vulnerable. Access restrictions and attacks against aid workers have also become a serious issue,” said IOM’s Director General António Vitorino in his speech at the Conference. 

“We must intensify our efforts to not only meet the most immediate needs but also address the root causes of this crisis. Military operations alone cannot be the solution.” 

In addition to calling on concerned actors to bring an end to the violence and seek sustainable solutions, IOM and partners also call on international donors to increase funding commitments needed to effectively respond to the estimated 13.4 million people in dire need of humanitarian assistance. 

IOM has scaled up its operations to provide life-saving assistance to the affected and displaced, while also working to mitigate the drivers of conflict through peacebuilding and conflict resolution activities and to enhance development efforts notably through livelihood and disaster risk reduction initiatives.  

This is in addition to the Organization’s COVID-19 regional response which seeks to curb disease transmission, limit the pandemic’s humanitarian and socioeconomic effects, and support affected communities in preparing for longer-term recovery. Activities for the latter focus on the strengthening of health systems, community and national-level training, awareness-raising campaigns, distributions of personal protective equipment and support for laboratories as well as health screenings at borders and other strategic locations. 

At present, IOM’s overall funding requirements for its response in the Central Sahel are only 34 per cent funded. The Organization requires USD 58 million to meet the needs of two million people targeted by the response. Similarly, the overall UN humanitarian response plans for assistance to the Central Sahel this year were only 39 per cent funded. 

“We now have an opportunity to shift the paradigm of our response towards more cohesive action among humanitarian, development, peacebuilding, and security actors and create a space where humanitarian and development actors can build joint approaches with the common goal of improving the lives of all those affected by the situation in the Central Sahel,” said DG Vitorino. 

Today’s Conference was convened by the Governments of Denmark, Germany, the European Union and the United Nations.  

IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s plans and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by, or at risk of, crisis and displacement in 2020 and beyond. The Platform is regularly updated as crises evolve, and new situations emerge.   

For more information please contact Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer for the Department of Operations and Emergencies, +41 79 403 5365, and IOM’s RO Dakar - DOE Team at