More than five million people living in the western Sahel region of Africa are threatened with famine, Germany Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Berlin on Wednesday
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) had earlier expressed concern over expected food shortage in the region.
“Food supplies will presumably be further impacted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Maas said.
He noted that the dangers posed by the disease were greater for malnourished people.
The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, also warned on Wednesday that “for many of our partners it could be the worst crisis in decades.”
He said that the EU’s aim is to support the most vulnerable countries, especially in Africa and its own neighbourhood, but also in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, against the coronavirus.
The EU recently announced an aid package of some 15 billion euros for those countries.
According to Borrell, the money comes from existing resources of the EU Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB), and is intended above all to prevent a health crisis.
German Development Minister Gerd Mueller echoed Maas’ comments after a videoconference with other EU ministers and Borrell on Wednesday.
“We need a shield for countries that are in crisis,” he said.
He also criticised that the aid package comes from reallocated funds instead of fresh sources and called for credit lines from the EIB of 10 billion euros, which could be leveraged to 100 billion.
The UN’s WFP recently highlighted a looming humanitarian catastrophe in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.
The region, which is in the throes of attacks by Islamist terrorists has one of the world’s weakest health systems.
Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola