Sahel Emergency

Violence in the Sahel: Over 2 million internally displaced within the region

Photo: ©UNHCR/Sylvain Cherkaoui

UNHCR is assisting people of concern in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger fleeing violence.

Please help these families find safety and survive.


to help protect families fleeing violence


to provide medical and psychosocial assistance to the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence


to construct and improve education facilities

What’s happening in the Sahel?

The central Sahel region—Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger—is facing a severe humanitarian and protection crisis. Massive displacement, most of it driven by intense and largely indiscriminate violence perpetrated by a range of armed actors against civilian populations, is taking place across the region. While internal displacement is on the rise, substantial numbers of refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.

In neighbouring Niger, thousands more have fled attacks on villages, arriving in Mali in search of safety. They are joined by internally displaced Malians who are also fleeing attacks by militants in their own country.

UNHCR is alarmed by the dramatic increase of attacks on civilians and calls for the protection of civilians fleeing violence in the region.

What is the working environment like for UNHCR?

Insecurity, geography, climate and a global pandemic: all conspire to present UNHCR and its partners with one of the most difficult operating environments in the world.

Since an initial outbreak in northern Mali in 2011, armed conflict has spread to central Mali, to Niger, to Burkina Faso, and is likely to impact coastal countries such as Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo.

As one of the fastest growing displacement crises in the world, millions continue to flee indiscriminate attacks by armed groups against civilians such as summary executions, the widespread use of rape against women, as well as attacks against state institutions, including schools and health facilities.

The security situation is complicated further by the broad range of regular and irregular armed actors, including national armies, international forces and a UN peacekeeping mission, as well as insurgent groups, community-based armed groups, traffickers and criminal gangs.

Ongoing insecurity and hostilities between parties to the conflicts, the presence of improvised explosive devices and landmines, as well as other physical constraints such as lack of road infrastructure, flooding and rough terrain make humanitarian access extremely difficult and, at times, risky.

How can you help?

When you support UNHCR’s projects such as the Central Sahel Emergency, you are contributing directly to providing emergency relief to refugees and internally displaced persons in the Central Sahel region who need it most. Your generous gift enables UNHCR to provide refugees fleeing violence in the Central Sahel with the critical humanitarian resources they urgently require. We are on the ground providing immediate humanitarian aid to those arriving, departing or already currently living in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.

Did you know that six out of ten IDPs in the three central Sahel countries are in Burkina Faso?

Attayoub is 28 years old, he is a shepherd and lives in the Goudoubo camp in Burkina Faso.

Attayoub is Touareg. Attayoub fled with his brother away from Mali and later realised he was in Burkina Faso. His parents stayed in Mali nearby Gao. He has been living in the camp since 2012. Attayoub got married in the camp and has 2 daughters. His oldest daughter is called Bushra. His wife is pregnant with a third child. Attayoub’s mother joined him 3 years ago to also live safely at the camp. His father, however, is still working in Gao. Attayoub didn’t see his father since 2012 and has not been able to speak to him in the last 3 years because of poor phone connections. He sometimes gets messages via the market.

Attayoub is proud of what he has achieved and wants to show his father. Attayoub has 16 goats and sheep, which help him to support his family. The cattle is like a bank to him. Attayoub is happy to live in safety, where he can support his family can sleep safely at night. One day he hopes to return home, but his biggest wish is for his father to join the rest of the family in the camp as soon as possible.

Photo: ©UNHCR/Jerry de Mars

Donate Today
Please help refugee families and internally displaced people in the Central Sahel region.

Donate Today
Please help refugee families and internally displaced people in the Central Sahel region.

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