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UN launches $92 million appeal for Sahel countries

DAKAR, 28 March 2006 - The United Nations launched a funding appeal today in Dakar for Sahelian countries for approximately $92 million for 2006. The funds are required to cover the food and nutrition needs of one of the poorest regions in the world.

The appeal targets 4 Sahelian countries - Burkina-Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger - and covers 22 humanitarian projects created by various humanitarian organizations, including: FAO, UNDP, WFP, WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF and Afrique Verte.  The 22 projects cover the areas of agriculture, food aid, nutrition and health.

"We cannot wait until thousands of people, the majority of them women and children, die of hunger or of under-nutrition before we act," said the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Ambassador Ahmedou Ould Abdallah.

"So many lives - notably the lives of thousands of young children - can be saved through the collective efforts of the international community," said the Head of the Regional Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for West Africa, Herve Ludovic de Lys.

The Sahelian countries, which went through a food crisis in 2004/2005, are preparing to go through yet another difficult 'hunger' period despite good, recent harvests. Past crises have considerably weakened family coping capacities and many families are still trying to pay off debts incurred during last year's crisis. Studies by UNICEF show that young children less than 3 years of age are the most vulnerable.

"2005 was one of the worst years that the Sahelian countries have ever seen," said the Deputy Director of the World Food Programme’s Regional Office for West Africa, Christine Van Nieuwenhuyse.

"In the Sahelian countries, the first victims of under-nutrition are children," said the Deputy Director of UNICEF's West & Central Africa Regional Office, Theophane Nikyema. "This year, under-nutrition will be responsible for the deaths of more than 300,000 children in the Sahel if measures are not put in place in time. We know what needs to be done, what we need are the means to do so - today."

The Sahel funding appeal completes the West Africa Consolidated Appeal Process for West Africa, which was launched in November 2005.

OCHA: Maya Siblini siblinim@un.org

Katy Thiam thiamk@un.org +221 867 27 50 

PAM: Marcus Prior marcus.prior@wfp.org

Stefania Trassari  stefania.trassari@wfp.org +221 842 7248

UNICEF: Yves Willemot  ywillemot@unicef.org

Kent Page kpage@unicef.org +221 869 5858





28 March 2006:
UNICEF Correspondent Sarah Crowe reports on the UN appeal to fund nutrition in the Sahel, the vast parched region of West Africa bordering the Sahara.

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