Security in Africa’s Sahel region has “deteriorated significantly” over the past year, according to one of the largest Catholic development agencies.
The arid Sahel region – located at the borderland between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa – has been plagued by attacks from various Islamist groups, including some aligned with Al Qaeda and Islamic State. Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have been particularly affected.
“The region has long experienced chronic poverty, governance challenges, porous borders and food insecurity, but extremist groups are becoming more brazen in their attacks on the most vulnerable people,” said Jennifer Overton, the regional director for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the official international developmental aid agency of the U.S. bishops.
“Rising youth unemployment, an increasing number of extreme climate events and limited access to basic services like healthcare are some of the big drivers of the humanitarian disaster currently unfolding in the region,” Overton told Crux.
“The security situation in the Sahel has deteriorated significantly over the past year, especially in Burkina Faso, where approximately 500,000 people have been forced to flee their homes. Niger and Mali, too, are facing the brunt of armed violence in the region,” she said.
Islamist militants with links to al-Qaeda and so-called Islamic State have continued to extend their reach across the region, even as they lose ground in the Middle East.
Read more at Crux