Continued insecurity hampering aid efforts in Burkina Faso

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Burkina Faso. Malian refugees

A woman holds her twin babies at the entrance to Goudebou refugee camp, Burkina Faso.  © UNHCR/Brian Sokol

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is alarmed at the continued insecurity, particularly in northern Burkina Faso, affecting civilians, including internally displaced people and refugees. 

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has experienced growing insecurity, marked by several high-profile attacks in the capital Ouagadougou and an expanding insurgency in the country’s northern and eastern regions.

Despite security measures and the deployment of military forces, parts of the country have witnessed a sharp increase in violence since 2018. This violence, which has also increasingly targeted humanitarian actors, limits the ability of the humanitarian community to provide life-saving assistance in affected areas.

Over 115,000 people are now internally displaced following the most recent incidents, and more than 11,000 people have been forced to flee Burkina Faso to seek refuge in neighboring countries. Violence has also severely hampered humanitarian access to the displaced population inside the country.

We fear that more civilians could be affected by further violence. UNHCR is joining other humanitarian partners to advocate for the safety of civilians and for the respect of aid workers’ neutrality, in order to ensure continued assistance to those in need of protection and assistance.

More than 90 per cent of those displaced inside the country are living in host communities. Some 70 per cent of the displaced are in the Sahel region, with 30 per cent in Djibo alone. UNHCR has two offices in the Sahel region, in Djibo and Dori.

Burkina Faso currently hosts some 25,000 refugees from Mali who are also affected by the conflict. Violence has curtailed our access to thousands of refugees settled outside the camps in Soum and Oudalan Provinces in the Sahel Region, close to the Malian border. Refugees in these areas are urged to move to camps where UNHCR and its partners will be able to ensure their protection and access to basic social services.

Inside Burkina Faso, UNHCR is supporting the government’s call to assist those who have been displaced. We have made shelters and relief items available from our current stocks. UNHCR is also conducting protection monitoring of the displaced and is scaling up its presence in the country to meet the increasing humanitarian needs.

However, we urgently need additional funding. Our financial requirements for Burkina Faso in 2019 of US$27.3 million are only 26 per cent funded.

8,500 of the 11,000 Burkinabe who fled to Mali are now residing in Gossi, Timbuktu, N'Tilit and Gao, which are also directly affected by insecurity. This year alone, some 3,000 refugees are reported to have crossed into Mali. UNHCR is currently in the process of registering and assisting these new arrivals.

Around 300 people also crossed into Ghana, after being forced to flee the northern part of Burkina Faso, following chieftaincy-related conflict in Zoaga.

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