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Sahel violence displaces two million internally- UN says

An aerial view taken on November 16, 2020 shows the Koum-Lakre school, located in Kaya's outskirts, crowded with Internally Displaced People (IDP).   -  
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For the first time, more than two million people have been displaced in the Sahel within the borders of their countries, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on Friday.

The Sahel, which has been plagued by armed insurgent groups and criminal gangs since 2012, includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger.

Already this year, violence in Niger and Burkina Faso has forced more than 21,000 people to flee their homes and seek refuge within their own countries.

And in Burkina Faso, since December 31, a series of armed attacks in the north of the country have displaced more than 11,000 people.

But the UN says the Sahel is also seeing rising needs such as extreme poverty, food insecurity, climatic changes, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the generosity of their hosts, many internally displaced people do not even have basic shelter and sleep in the open air.

The UNHCR has urged the international community to redouble its support for the region.

France has been present in the Sahel since 2013. It currently has 5,100 stationed troops but is currently examining this level of commitment.

At the end of December, five French soldiers died in an explosion of two artisanal mines a few days apart, bringing to 50 the number of French soldiers killed in the region.

Meanwhile, the African Development Bank said in January it would mobilize $6.5 Billion to support efforts by countries in the Sahel.

Launched in 2007 by the African African Union, the Great Green Wall is a concerted attempt to roll back the Sahara desert.

It seeks to help communities in the Sahel and Sahara regions to mitigate and adapt to climate change but also to improve food security.

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