"I have met extraordinary women these past days in Burkina Faso. Their resilience, determination and spirit in spite of the enormous hardships they face is remarkable." Deputy Humanitarian Chief Ursula Mueller
Increased insecurity, violence, food crisis, floods and epidemics are among the factors that plunged Burkina Faso into a significant humanitarian crisis.
In January, a new series of particularly violent attacks and intercommunal clashes have displaced 36,000 people. As of February, violence has uprooted almost 70,000 people from their homes in just two months. Armed groups have burnt schools and killed innocent civilians.
Humanitarian partners are requesting US$100 million to be able to reach 898,000 people with basic aid this year. Complementing this, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has just allocated US$4 million to boost the ongoing response, providing immediate assistance to 25,000 IDPs in four sites, and 5,000 people in host communities in the Centre-Nord and Sahel regions. The allocation will also support services for over 15,500 women and girls.
“These funds will make an immediate difference for displaced people, most of whom are women and children”, said Deputy Humanitarian Chief Ursula Mueller, who is in Burkina Faso to witness first-hand the depth of the humanitarian needs. “The CERF allocation will also help to quickly deliver assistance to communities hosting the displaced as well as to people who are still living in conflict-affected areas. Aid agencies will be able to immediately increase assistance for people in need of food, clean water, health care, and education support for children who are out of school,” Ms. Mueller said.
A multifaceted crisis
The country is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. People are deeply traumatized by horrific attacks they continue to witness. Many have lost family members and most of their possessions.
“Thousands of families continue to flee due to persistent insecurity”, Ms. Mueller stressed. “We must be by their side, providing shelter, water, food and healthcare timely and sufficiently. Burkina Faso authorities and humanitarian actors have quickly provided assistance, however, more has to be done to meet growing needs of the affected people wherever they may be. I urge all actors to respect the neutrality of aid workers and do their utmost to ensure the protection of communities.”
As internal displacement rates continue to grow, the country is already hosting some 25,000 refugees, most of whom are Malians. 93 per cent of them depend completely on humanitarian assistance to survive.
Lack of basic services
Ongoing violence has forced the closure of more than 1,100 schools, depriving around 150,000 children of education. Some 120,000 people have no access to medical care as health centres are closed or providing only minimal services.
In 2018, a combination of factors plunged nearly one million people into an acute food and nutrition crisis. The situation remains worrying throughout the country with a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of 8.4% and a severe acute malnutrition (SAM) rate of 1.6% among children aged 6-59 months. Despite good prospects for agricultural and fodder production, more than 670,000 people will continue to face chronic food insecurity this year.
Natural disasters and epidemics
Burkina Faso is affected annually by floods and high winds, which hit populations already living in precariousness particularly hard in addition to epidemics of measles, meningitis and dengue fever. The projection is that 41,000 people will need humanitarian assistance following natural disasters and epidemics this year, and government interventions heavily rely on humanitarian funding to be implemented.
While the humanitarian community is working around the clock to respond to people’s immediate needs, also thanks to the recent CERF allocation, more sustained funding is needed to ensure that people in the hardest-hit areas are reached with aid.
Last year’s Humanitarian Response Plan remained severely underfunded (only 55.2 per cent of the requirements were met). As of today, this year’s appeal is only 16 per cent funded.
“As we strive to alleviate suffering, we are also seeking ways to reduce and end recurrent humanitarian needs. Our efforts must look beyond the current humanitarian emergency and sustainably address the causes of the crisis,” said Metsi Makhetha, the UN Resident Coordinator for Burkina Faso. “The affected communities must not only be able to regain their livelihoods, but be given the opportunity to prosper and build a better future for themselves and their children.”