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UN warns of extreme hunger in Africa’s Sahel region, says 18 million currently affected

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The Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), an arm of the United Nations, has warned of extreme hunger in the Sahel region of Africa in the next three months.

The UN agency added that already, an estimate of about 18 million people are currently facing severe food insecurity across the arid Sahel belt that stretches across Africa immediately south of the Sahara.

A report issued by Martin Griffiths, the head of OCHA on Friday, noted that “millions of refugees and displaced people in Africa’s Sahel region face severe hunger as food rations are being cut by up to half in some areas because of a funding shortfall.”

Griffiths said that the hunger crisis in the region is the worst since 2014 and is the result of several factors ranging from the war in Ukraine to climate change and regional conflicts.

“A combination of violence, insecurity, deep poverty and record-high food prices is exacerbating malnutrition and driving millions to the fringes of survival.

“The recent spike in food prices driven by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is threatening to turn a food security crisis into a humanitarian disaster,” he said.

“The situation has reached alarming levels in Burkina Faso, Mauritius, Chad, Mali and Niger, where nearly 1.7 million people will experience emergency levels of food insecurity during the lean season between June and August,” the report said.

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Malian migrants, including children, die as makeshift Europe-bound boat capsizes in Libya

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Twenty-two Malian migrants including three children, have been killed when their makeshift Europe-bound boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, the United Nations as well as the Malian government have confirmed on Wednesday.

The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), also confirmed that 61 other migrants were rescued and taken to a detention centre in Libya.

The Ministry of Malians Abroad, in a statement, said the people who died were part of a group of 83 mostly Malian nationals who were stuck on a distressed vessel since June 22.

The IOM, in statement by its spokeswoman Safa Msehli, said the rescued victims were brought back to shore with the help of the Libyan coastguard after nine days at sea, adding that the “cause of death for the 22 people was drowning and dehydration.”

Msehli also said some of the survivors were in very poor health and had to be taken to hospital by the IOM.

“The remaining migrants were taken to al-Maya detention centre” in Libya, she said.

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Monkeypox: WHO records over 6,000 cases in 58 countries in recent outbreak

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According to the World Health Organization, more than 6,000 cases of monkeypox have now been reported from 58 countries in the current outbreak.

The United Nations agency is yet to decide declaring the outbreak a global health emergency, the WHO’s highest level of alert.

Its committee reconvene a meeting in July 18 to decide or sooner.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference from Geneva.

Monkeypox, a disease that was once largely restricted to Africa, has also penetrated Europe and North America in its recent spread with more than 100 cases recorded outside Africa.

The UN committee meeting in June 27 decided that the disease was not yet a health emergency. There have recently been reported cases in other African countries like Nigeria and Morocco.

“I continue to be concerned by the scale and spread of the virus across the world,” Tedros said, adding that a lack of testing meant that there were likely many more cases going unreported.

Until recently, monkeypox had been a disease that was once largely restricted to Africa, but has gradually penetrating Europe and North America in its recent outbreak.

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