This summer the “Arab Spring” seems to be getting hot as hell, even beyond the “war-is-hell” sense. Masses of Egyptians are rallying in Tahrir Square to protest the military’s latest moves; Syria downs a Turkish fighter jet; there are increasing riots in Sudan not related to the secession of the south; and the list goes on. But below the North African countries where the jasmine-tinted winds of change first blew away dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya (with the anti-dictatorial aroma catching on in Yemen and reaching as far east as Bahrain) there is a crisis which is not being covered. The hot topic should be the Sahel, the region that cuts across Africa in a dry zone of perpetual dearth and periodic death.
In a special report on Al Jazeera, it is reported that 15 million people are affected by a severe drought combined with ineffective government assistance programs and decreasing food supply. The report provides a country-by-country breakdown of the problem. Consider the situation in Mali, for example:
Prices of millet and sorghum grain have risen significantly after harvests in 2012 were 25 per cent lower than in 2011. Political instability, following a coup in March 2012 and the breakup of Northern Mali into the self-proclaimed state of Azawad, has further hampered the ability of aid agencies to assess needs and deliver the necessary aid to this landlocked country.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that more than a million children face acute malnutrition, with as many as 146,000 people displaced into Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, under deteriorating circumstances.
People affected: 3-4million.