OTTAWA, Canada, August 7, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Harper Government called on Canadians today to lend their support to the people affected by the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa. The announcement was made by Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation, Lois Brown, on behalf of Minister of International Cooperation, Julian Fantino.
"Canadians have shown that they are always ready to help those in need," said Minister Fantino. "Right now, millions of women, men and children in the Sahel are suffering from hunger and severe malnutrition. This is absolutely unacceptable. With generosity from Canadians, we can do more to respond to this crisis and support people in dire need."
The Government of Canada announced that it would match dollar-for-dollar Canadian donations made to registered Canadian charities responding to the Sahel crisis through the Sahel Crisis Matching Fund. The government will also make an initial contribution of $10 million to the matching fund. This will enable humanitarian agencies to provide immediate food and nutritional support, emergency health care, water and sanitation, and livelihoods support.
The humanitarian situation in the Sahel has deteriorated dramatically through 2012, due to a combination of drought, poor harvests, rising food prices, population displacement, and insecurity. The countries most affected by the Sahel crisis are Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia and northern Cameroon.
"When lives are in the balance, every minute matters," said Parliamentary Secretary Brown. "Canada is doing everything it can to provide assistance in the Sahel, and it is doing so quickly. It is critical that the international community ramp up its humanitarian effort and work together, so we can do more to ease the suffering of the people in the Sahel."
Canada will match funds raised from August 7 to September 30, 2012. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will allocate these funds to established Canadian and international humanitarian organizations to support relief efforts that will benefit the people who are most affected by the food and nutrition crisis.
The Government of Canada has already provided $47.5 million in humanitarian assistance to the Sahel, helping the relief efforts of implementing partners such as the Humanitarian Coalition, World Vision Canada and the World Food Programme.
For more information on CIDA's work in the Sahel, or the Sahel Crisis Matching Fund, please visit CIDA's website.