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West Africa and Sahel

20m West Africans need humanitarian aid

The President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Omar Alieu Touray, has said that an estimated 20 million persons from countries in the subregion require urgent humanitarian aid.

This was just as ECOWAS, the private tourism sector and other stakeholders unveiled strategic initiatives aimed at boosting tourism across the subregion.

According to Touray, about three million out of the distressed population are currently languishing in Internally displaced persons camps (IDPs) with poor health and welfare facilities.

He blamed the humanitarian crisis on instability created by terrorist attacks, political instability and other forms of insecurity in these countries.

Speaking at the 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Health Ministers of ECOWAS in Abuja, Touray said that emergency situations arising from health, insecurity and climate

He said that emergency situations arising from health, insecurity and climate change disasters are having a great impact on the effort to realise the goal of economic and social integration with the region.

He said: “As you are all aware, our region is currently facing numerous challenges including poverty, insecurity, political instability all of which has resulted in migration, displacement of persons and communities.

Indeed in the ECOWAS region, it is estimated that more than 20 million people need humanitarian aid out of which more than 3 million are internally displaced persons.

This is caused mainly by the activities of terrorist groups and political instability.”

Trouray said that the fundamental objectives of ECOWAS is not only to build an economic community of its member states but to improve the living standards of the citizens.

However, the leader of the regional economic bloc said that certain factors have limited the attainment of the set goal of ECOWAS.

For instance, he said that during the outbreak of COVID-19, the solidarity of the community was put to test.

He said that the resultant travel restrictions and closure of some borders tended to curtail the commercial and social activities within the subregion.

He said the ministers of Health from the region rose to the occasion and were able to arrest the situation and bring it under control.“

This is clear evidence that health insecurity can compromise every effort of ECOWAS to ensure free movement of persons thereby jeopardizing the whole essence of regional integration.

In addition the collective pursuit of health is necessary for a healthy population as well as productivity and consumption and by extension – wealth creation, ” he said.

The ECOWAS boss said that it was for this reason that the leaders of the subregion decided to establish the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) to help to deal with health issues and to play an instrumental role in the regional integration scheme.

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