UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said last week "The truth is that there is very little attention to the crisis in the Sahel. Most of the focus of the international committee has been on the Syria crisis."
UN agencies and other organizations have been sounding the alarm that a devil’s brew of food insecurity, water scarcity, environmental degradation and conflict is likely to lead to a humanitarian disaster in one of the poorest parts of the world. Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of UNICEF estimates that some 15 million people are effected by drought, of whom 1.5 million are children. UN agencies have appealed to the international community for $724 million, but only fifty percent of this amount has been pledged.
With respect to international attention to the Sahel, the international community pays more attention to the political crisis in Mali or alleged international terrorist links with indigenous groups than it does to hunger. The UN has issued a wake-up call. It remains to be seen if the international community will respond soon enough.