Sahel emergency

The Sahel is facing one of the fastest growing displacement crises in the world – and yet it is one of the most forgotten. 

Intense and indiscriminate violence has forced millions to flee across the region, both within countries and across borders.

This deteriorating humanitarian and protection emergency is further compounded by the impact of the climate crisis, COVID-19, and food insecurity.

3 million

Internally displaced people (IDPs)

Over 1 million

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Last updated November 2022 - Visit the Data Portal for more statistics

“I was so frightened. The whole family – including my grandmother, aunt, and my husband’s brothers and sisters – met up and left the village. We set off on foot without any belongings. There were about 40 of us, and it took us 20 hours to reach Ouahigouya.”

–Aguiratou, internally displaced woman from northern Burkina Faso

The conflict in Africa’s Sahel continues to escalate. This latest wave of displacement in the region – which includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger – has pushed the total number of people forced to flee within their own country in the region to beyond 3 million.

If you are a refugee and need help, click here for more information.

Number of refugees and other people of concern to UNHCR in the Sahel region

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Women and children are bearing the brunt of this crisis. Local communities have demonstrated remarkable generosity but are at a breaking point. National capacities are overwhelmed, and there has been limited international support for urgently needed humanitarian and development activities.

The Sahel is also on the front lines of the climate crisis, with temperatures increasing at 1.5 times the global average. This is aggravating conflicts over scarce resources and making life harder for those already forced to flee. The COVID-19 pandemic is also exacerbating the situation, in a region where health structures have been weakened by insecurity.

What is UNHCR doing to help?

UNHCR is scaling up its response to this crisis by:

  • providing shelter and core relief items;
  • supporting victims of rampant sexual and gender-based violence;
  • helping people to access education;
  • and working to mitigate the devastating impact of climate change.

Support our work now

To find the latest documents and figures on the Sahel, please visit our Data Portal. You can also read the latest external updates on our Global Focus page.