Minister Fantino visits refugees and provides update on Sahel Crisis Matching Fund

September 11, 2012 - The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, accompanied by heads of Canadian humanitarian organizations, today conducted a visit to Mentao refugee camp to raise awareness of the food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa.

"Today, I saw first-hand a true humanitarian crisis. I heard about the hardship that women, men and children are facing through these incredibly difficult times," said Minister Fantino. "The Government of Canada remains gravely concerned by this humanitarian crisis. This is why we established the Sahel Crisis Matching Fund to raise additional funds for relief efforts in the Sahel. To date, Canadians have donated $1.8 million to the matching fund. With continued generosity, we can support more people in dire need and ultimately save lives."

© UNICEF/David MorleyMinister Fantino visits Namassa Health Centre in Burkina Faso.

Minister Fantino and the heads of Canadian humanitarian organizations met with refugees and locals affected by the humanitarian crisis caused by drought, poor harvests, rising food prices, population displacement, insecurity, and political instability. Almost 19 million people in the Sahel region of West Africa have been adversely affected, to date. The humanitarian situation has deteriorated dramatically throughout 2012. The countries most affected by the Sahel crisis are Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, and northern Cameroon.

"Canadians have shown time and again their generosity and support for people most in need around the world," added Minister Fantino." I urge all Canadians, and the international community, to support the people in the Sahel as they endure the ongoing crisis. Canadians have until September 30, 2012, to make a donation."

The Government of Canada will match funds raised from August 7 to September 30, 2012. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will allocate these funds to established Canadian and international humanitarian organizations to support relief efforts that will benefit the people who are most affected by the food and nutrition crisis.

For more information on CIDA's work in the Sahel, or the Sahel Crisis Matching Fund, please visit CIDA's website.

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For more information, media should contact:

Stephanie Rea
Director of Communications to the Minister of International Cooperation
Telephone: 819-953-6238

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: 819-953-6534

Twitter: @CIDA_CA
Flickr: Photos from Minister Fantino's visit