By Lizzy Okoji
Abuja, Sept. 25, 2020 The U.S. government on Friday announced it had provided nearly $152 million to countries of the Sahel region as humanitarian assistance.
The countries of the Sahel region include Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Mali.
U.S Secretary of States Michael Pompeo disclosed this in a statement, which was made available on the African Regional Media Hub.
The U.S at the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting also announced nearly $108 million as humanitarian assistance for the people of South Sudan, including South Sudanese in neighboring countries.
Pompeo said the funding includes nearly $67 million from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration as well as more than $85 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance.
Pompeo added that significant gaps in meeting humanitarian needs, in addition to environmental concerns such as major flooding across the region, had been further worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our assistance will provide critical protection, livelihoods, shelter, essential healthcare, emergency food assistance, safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene services for refugees, internally displaced people, and vulnerable host communities.
“The United States remains the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance, both in the Sahel region and globally.
“We appreciate contributions from donors to date, but recognise the significant needs that remain and call on current and new donors to make new contributions or to fulfill existing pledges to make this life saving assistance possible.
“Today at the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting, `A Dialogue with the World’s Top Ten Donors on Global Humanitarian Needs’, hosted by the United States, we announced nearly $108 million in humanitarian assistance for the people of South Sudan, including South Sudanese in neighboring countries.
“This funding includes nearly $97 million from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and more than $11 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.
“It brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance for the response, including refugees and those affected by conflict and natural disasters, to nearly $907 million in Fiscal Year 2020 alone.
“And nearly $5.5 billion since the start of the crisis in 2014, including more than $64 million in supplemental humanitarian assistance to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the region,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo added that heavy rains, fighting between armed groups, food insecurity, a deteriorating economic situation, and the COVID-19 pandemic had compounded an already dire humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
He said the U.S. humanitarian assistance provided emergency food assistance, health care services, access to safe drinking water and sanitation, as well as assistance to survivors of gender-based violence in South Sudan.
According to him, U.S. humanitarian assistance also provides life-saving activities to the nearly 2.2 million South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries, most of whom are women and children, and to local host communities sheltering refugees.
He said the U.S. also provided country-wide support for the UN Humanitarian Air Service to transport humanitarian workers and relief supplies.
The secretary of state said that in the response to the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, the U.S. “supports the operations of a network of nearly 30 non-governmental organisations, including faith-based organisations, and international organisations.”
He listed some of the organisations supported by the U.S. government as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Children’s Fund, and the World Food Programme.
Others are he identified are the International Organisation for Migration, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Pompeo said the U.S. remained the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance, both in South Sudan and globally.
`We will continue to be catalyst for international response to alleviate the suffering of the people of South Sudan.
“We appreciate contributions from donors to date but recognise the significant needs that remain and call on current and new donors to make new contributions or to fulfill existing pledges to make this life saving,” Pompeo said.