The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) Thursday warned that over five million people face serious food insecurity in the Sahel in a humanitarian crisis "out of control."
African Union Plans to Deploy 3,000 Troops to Sahel Region
"The dramatic increase in the number of hungry people comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading to fragile countries in a region that is home to the world's weakest health systems," WFP said.
In Burkina Faso, the sub-Saharan African country that has recorded 16 deaths from COVID-19, the number of hungry people is expected to reach 2.1 million in June.
"People are on the brink of the abyss. We must step forward now to save lives. We are the only hope for millions of people," WFP Regional Director for West Africa Chris Nikoi stressed.
"Our message to the world is clear: if you look away now, the consequences will be catastrophic, to say the least."
In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, which are the countries that make up the Central Sahel, the situation is "extremely worrying" as the crisis is plunging 1.3 million people in Mali and 2 million people in Niger into food insecurity.
To somewhat mitigate the effects of this situation, the WFP operations require at least $ 208 million until next August.
According to information from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 6,400 COVID-19 cases in Africa, a continent where 229 patients have died so far.
The countries with the highest number of confirmed cases are South Africa (1,380), Algeria (847), Egypt (779), and Morocco (638).
To contain the pandemic, some African governments have established strict border controls and banned concentrations of people in public places.