Ahead of Tuesday’s High-Level Ministerial Conference on the Central Sahelinthe Danish capitalCopenhagen, the World Food Programme ( WFP ) sounded the alarm that catastrophic levels of hunger could hit parts of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

‘Tragic’ food insecurity spike

Violence and insecurity have pushed 7.4 million people in the Central Sahel region of West Africa into acute hunger, according to WFP.

Additionally, thenumber of internally displaced people has risen from 70,000 two years ago to nearly 1.6 million today–including over 288,000 in Mali, more than 265,000 in Niger and over one million in Burkina Faso, which is now home to the world’s fastest growing displacement crisis.

“When we can’t get to vulnerable communities, we’re seeing tragic spikes in food insecurity”,said ChrisNikoi, WFP Regional Director for West Africa.

Heexplainedthat“dreadful violence and conflict”in parts of northern Burkina Fasohave leftover ten thousand people there “one step short of famine”.

“The world cannot wait to take action until children, women and men have died”, stressed the WFP official.

Food deliveries on the way

Asthedelivery effortsof humanitarian organizationshavebeen jeopardized by worsening conflict and insecurity,life-saving assistancetothe neediest communitieshas becomeinaccessible.

Moreover,aid workers are increasingly targeted by non-State armed groups in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

WFP, which wasrecentlyawardedthe2020 Nobel Peace Prize,isurgingconferenceparticipants to find ways fororganisations to engage with communities and all actors on the groundtoopensafe passageways for humanitarian assistance to reach those in need.

A worryingoutlook

Meanwhile,in response to the deepening crisis and growing needs,WFP has continued to ramp up lifesaving assistance, reachingmore than3.4 million people in August alone.

Inscalingup to meet the growing needs in BurkinaFaso,WFPworried aboutitsfinancial outlook.

The UN agencyhasalreadybeenforced to reduce rations from July and risks,by next month,a break for emergency assistance to displaced people who–havingfled their homes,farms and jobs–have no other options.

Building resilience 

At the same time, WFP is working to strengthen resilience-building support for at-risk communities.

Itsinterventions includerehabilitatingcommunity assets, improving degraded land, feedingstudents,and community-based nutrition activities,toprevent and treatmalnutrition.

Since 2018, more than one million people have benefitted from WFP’s integrated resilience activities in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.

Humanitarian event

The UN is co-hosting the conferenceinDenmarkalong withGermany and the European Union.

It will feature on Tuesday, a ministerial round table that follows up on a virtual 8 Septembermeeting,focusedonforward-looking plans relating to humanitarian action, development and peace efforts,among other things.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN News.