Sahel's stability a priority for Italy - Del Re

Sahel's stability a priority for Italy - Del Re

Photo: Jane Hahn

The Sahel region's stability is a "strategic priority" for Italy, deputy foreign minister Emanuela Del Re said as donors pledged 1.7 billion dollars of humanitarian aid to millions of people in crisis-hit Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger on Tuesday.

"The stabilization of the central Sahel is a strategic priority for Italy, given its geographical position which links sub-Saharan Africa to the Mediterranean basin," said Del Re, according to a foreign ministry statement.

"It is crucial that with our help the Sahelian countries address the root causes of instability, with sustainable and long-term assistance, increasing the confidence of local populations in national institutions by enforcing the rule of law, human rights and promoting equal access to basic services. Our partnerships are a significant resource in this sense. "

The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the humanitarian situation including hunger in the central Sahel, which has suffered poverty, violent extremism, conflict and the consequences of climate change for over a decade, Del Re noted.

Coordination and integration of emergency aid and development and action by the various stakeholders and the private sector need to be strengthened to address the root causes of the region's humanitarian crisis, Del Re said.

Violence has forced more than 1.5 million people in the Central Sahel region from their homes - a twentyfold increase in two years. Gender-based violence has spiked, millions of children are out of school, and basic health and social services are lacking, according to the UN.

There are three times more severely hungry people in the region compared with a year ago.