Extreme Jeopardy

Ten million children in the central Sahel need humanitarian assistance amid spiralling conflict and punishing climate.

A woman holding her baby in her arms
UNICEF/Roger Yebuah/2023


Children in the central Sahel are increasingly caught up in armed conflict, and the intensification in military clashes is putting their lives and futures in extreme jeopardy. As tactics sink to brutal new lows, children are being directly targeted by non-state armed groups who operate across vast swathes of Mali and Burkina Faso, and increasingly in Niger.

Hostilities are spilling over from the central Sahel into the northern border regions of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo – remote communities with scarce infrastructure and resources, where children have extremely limited access to essential services and protection.

In 2022, together with partners, UNICEF support in the central Sahel:

  • Enabled nearly 365,000 children to access mental health and psychosocial support; 1.2 million children to access formal or non-formal education, including early learning; and 1.1 million children to be vaccinated against measles.
  • Over 446,000 children and women accessed primary healthcare in UNICEF-supported facilities, and 674,000 children under five were treated for severe wasting. Nearly 820,000 people accessed sufficient safe water for drinking and domestic needs.
  • In five coastal countries bordering the central Sahel, 7.1 million children received individual learning materials, and 1.28 million people were reached with water, sanitation and hygiene supplies. Nearly 1.9 million children and women accessed primary healthcare in UNICEF-supported facilities.

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