‘We have no food’: Africa’s growing humanitarian crisis Humanitarian crisis news

African leaders gathered Friday for a summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to address the growing humanitarian needs of the continent, which also faces rising violence, climate change challenges and a series of military coups.

Leaders called for increased mobilization to address a humanitarian crisis that has displaced millions and left more than 280 million undernourished.

For people in Gibo, a town in northern Burkina Faso near the border with Mali, any help isn’t coming anytime soon.

The city in the Sahel region – a large area below the Sahara desert – has been under siege since February by armed men, who have blocked the flow of people and goods and cut off water supplies. Few truck drivers are willing to take on the challenge of armed groups. Residents have no food or water, animals are dying, and grain prices are soaring.

“Goods don’t arrive here anymore. Animal and agricultural production is impossible because people can’t go back to their villages,” Barbara Manzi, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator, told The Associated Press in Gibo this week. “Unless (a solution) is found, it will be a tragedy for the entire group here.”

Jibo has been at the center of violence linked to al-Qaeda and the ISIL (ISIS) group, which has killed thousands and displaced nearly 2 million. While Djibow – and the province of Soum, where the town is located – experienced quiet periods, such as during a temporary ceasefire between fighters and the government around the 2020 presidential election, the truce did not last long.

Insecurity in the region has increased since November. Locals say armed groups have destroyed the town’s water infrastructure and placed explosives in much of the surrounding area of ​​Jibo to seal off the city.

Over the past few years, the town’s population has grown from 60,000 to 300,000 as people flee the countryside to escape violence.

Laith Alkhouri, chief executive of Intelonyx Intelligence Advisory, said the blockade of cities was a tactic used by armed groups to maintain their dominance and could also be an attempt to get Burkina Faso’s new junta to take power back in January from its pledge to eliminate militants . , a group that provides intelligence analysis.

“When the militants see an opportunity to gain incentives in negotiating with the government, they go into lockdown while sending a message to their base that they are in control. It’s a bargaining card and a winning card. ,”He says.

A United Nations team flew in briefly to assess the situation. The Associated Press news agency was the first foreign media outlet to visit the town in more than a year.

“Today, there is nothing to buy here. Even if you have cash, there is nothing to buy. We came here with four donkeys and goats, some of whom died of starvation. We were forced to sell the rest of the animals, unfortunately Yes, the price of animals has come down,” said cattle owner Mamoudou Oumarou.

The 53-year-old father of 13, who fled his village in February, said Gibo’s blockade prevented people from going to the market to buy and sell cattle, reducing demand and halving animal prices.

Before the violence, Jibo had one of the largest and most important livestock markets in the Sahel and was a bustling economic center. Alpha Ousmane Dao, head of Seracom, a local aid group in Jibo, said about 600 trucks entered Jibo every month in the past, but now there are fewer than 70.

Livestock seek shade in Gibo, Burkina Faso [File: Sam Mednick/AP Photo]

Burkina Faso is facing its worst hunger crisis in six years, with more than 630,000 people on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations.

WFP country director Antoine Reynard in Burkina Faso said that because of the blockade in Gibo, the WFP has been unable to deliver food to the town since December and stocks have been depleted.

Efforts to end the lockdown through dialogue have had mixed results. At the end of April, Djibo Emir met Jafar Diko, the leader of an armed group, in Burkina Faso to negotiate a lifting of the siege. However, little progress has been made since then.

Locals say armed groups have eased restrictions in some areas to allow freer movement, but the army is now preventing people from bringing food from Jibo to surrounding villages for fear that it will go to fighters.

The military has denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, Jibo residents say they are risking their lives just to survive.

Soya bean scouring the outskirts of Jibo for wood and water in the middle of the night, she said the fighters were not around.

“We don’t have animals anymore, we don’t have the food we buy at the market… If you have kids, you have no choice,” she said.

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