Mintou ad her family. Credit: CAFOD
Nick Harrop is a writer for Cafod (Caritas England and Wales). He has just return from a mission in Niger and give his first impression on the food crisis growing up in the country.
During the last few days, I’ve had the chance to ask several people in Niger how this year’s food crisis compares with previous ones. They’ve all said the same thing: it’s the worst one they can remember.
Mintou, a grandmother living in a village about three hours’ drive from the capital, said: “There was one year when it was very bad, which we call ‘kantchakalague’. Maybe we can compare this year that that one. But I think this year is worse.”
“Does ‘kantchakalgue’ mean famine?” I asked Tchadi from our partner CADEV (Caritas Niger), who was translating.
“No, not famine,” he said. “Literally, it means tiredness, thinness, a time when people are thin and animals are overwhelmed. A time when even if you kill an animal, you will find no meat inside. It’s a special word that people here give to 1984. We will have to see if they give this year a name as well.”
In a normal year, the harvest in November would produce enough food for the people in the village to last all year. But the harvest last year was disastrous, and people in Mintou’s village have already run out of food. Continue reading
Malian women who have come to Niger as refugees, attend a meeting in Tiguizefane, Abala district, Niger. Photo by Jean-Philippe Debus /CRS
By Helen Blakesley and Caritas Internationalis staff
American Caritas member Catholic Relief Services, Caritas Niger (SECADEV) and its partners are mobilising emergency water, hygiene and sanitation facilities to meet the urgent needs of thousands of Malian refugees in neighbouring Niger.
Fighting in northern Mali between the army and a rebel group has forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes. Nearly half have stayed in Mali, and the others have crossed borders seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.
According to the United Nations, around 25,000 people have crossed into Niger since the end of January—two-thirds of them Malian refugees and a third, Nigeriens. An estimated 500 people are arriving every day.
Most of the refugees are living in open-air shelters made of blankets stretched over sticks. They face extreme temperatures—the heat of the day and then cold at night—in the Sahelien desert zone.
Many came on foot, leaving behind most of their belongings. Some refugees say that they lost contact with their older children as they fled. They don’t know where they are and have no way of contacting them. Continue reading
Après la Corne de l’Afrique, c’est la région du Sahel qui est à nouveau confrontée à une crise alimentaire croissante. En 2010, 10 millions de personnes avaient déjà été affectées par une grave crise alimentaire. Cette année, on note des baisses importantes des productions agropastorales dans certaines zones du Sahel. Alors que les prix alimentaires sont élevés, cette situation compromet fortement l’accès à la nourriture des ménages les plus pauvres.
Caritas Internationalis suit de près la situation avec le Groupe de Travail sur le Sahel. L’objectif est d’établir une stratégie commune d’intervention susceptible d’orienter le travail de tous les membres de la confédération impliqués dans la région.
Des évaluations approfondies des besoins sont en cours dans les différents pays de la région. Caritas Internationalis est en communication constante avec Caritas Niger, Caritas Mali et Caritas Burkina Faso les trois pays les plus exposés à la crise. Le travail a donc déjà été entamé en collaboration avec les autres membres du réseau présents sur le terrain pour évaluer rigoureusement la situation et les besoins dans les zones et les communautés les plus vulnérables.
Les membres de la confédération ont été alertés de la situation afin d’être en mesure d’appuyer dès que possible la réponse des Caritas nationales qui se préparent à faire face à la situation actuelle et à la possible aggravation de la crise.
A Senegalese dance group performs the journey of migrants for participants of the Female Face of Migration conference in Saly, Senegal. Credit: Caritas/Michelle Hough
By Fr Jerome Otitoyomi Dukiya, Caritas Nouadhibou , Mauritania
There’s a place called Tinzawaten on the border between Mali and Algeria where people are just abandoned. They’re people who’ve been deported from Algeria.
The European Union signed an agreement with Algeria about the return of migrants it was to take them back to their back to their own country, not abandon them in the desert.
The migrants left at Tinzawaten don’t eat for days and they don’t have water to bathe in. They live in an abandoned village which was destroyed by rebels during the war and many of the houses don’t have roofs. It’s cold in the desert at night. Continue reading