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Fighting in Africa's Sahel continues amid COVID-19

'Escalating violence preventing communities from accessing land or pasture, thereby losing their main source of income'

Felix Tih   | 08.07.2020
Fighting in Africa's Sahel continues amid COVID-19 File Photo

ANKARA

Conflict has continued and almost doubled in Africa's Sahel region despite the coronavirus pandemic, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the ICRC said the front lines are constantly changing, which means people are always on the move in search of safety.

Escalating violence is also preventing communities from accessing land or pasture, thereby losing their main source of income, according to the humanitarian organization.

It said that apart from conflicts, millions of people in the region also face climate change and the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 545,000 across the world.

Patrick Youssef, the ICRC's regional director for Africa, stressed on ''the urgent need to help those people whose situation has become desperate, and to create a space that is conducive to development,'' according to the statement.

The statement came over a week after heads of state in the Sahel region and some of their European counterparts met in Nouakchott Mauritania to discuss peace and security in the region.

At the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron promised to engage Europe in fight terror in the Sahel region.

''The Sahel region cannot count on political solutions to ease tensions and create a space that is conducive to development,'' noted the ICRC.

''The COVID-19 pandemic is now a part of the equation and is also having a negative economic impact. We are concerned that people do not have access to the resources they need to survive this latest shock,'' it added.

The number of violent incidents almost doubled in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger between the last quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of this year -- a rise from 402 to 709 -- according to reports by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

An estimated 900,000 people where displaced in Burkina Faso in June, with over half of the displaced are children, according to the National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation.

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