Almost 1.8 million children forced to leave their homes for five years in MaliBurkina Faso and Niger, a number five times higher than before, according to a survey published today by the non-governmental organization Save the Children.

The NGO analyzed data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, country governments and the International Organization for Migration to estimate the number of displaced children in these three Sahel countries for this period.

The survey showed that the number of children forced to leave their homes rose from about 321,000 in 2019 to about 1.8 million today.

In addition, Ivory Coast, which emerged from its own civil war in 2011, has also been affected by the effects of the situation in the Sahel.

The conflict in Burkina Faso and neighboring Mali has resulted in a twelvefold increase in the number of children seeking refuge in that country, from around 2,450 at the end of 2022 to 29,700 currently.

“The largely forgotten crisis in the central Sahel remains one of the world’s worst humanitarian emergencies, all the more devastating as it is a crisis that touches children and affects one of the world’s youngest populations,” Vishna Shah underlined , one of the executives of Save the Children in Africa.

Millions of children live displaced lives, having fled unimaginable murderous violence. These children lived in one of the most difficult areas in the world to grow up in before they lost their home, their community and everything they knew.“, she added.

Children account for 40% of displaced people worldwide, according to the UN, but this figure rises to around 58% in West and Central Africa.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have been scarred by years of war, coups, extreme poverty and growing food insecurity.

Children face violent attacks and the risk of being recruited by armed groups, as more than ten years after the start of the crisis in Mali in 2012, the security situation in the region continues to deteriorate.

The Sahel region is also at the forefront of the climate crisis.