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Burkina Faso: Violence triggers unprecedented spike in displacement

09 Apr 2019

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Armed attacks and insecurity in Burkina Faso have triggered an unprecedented humanitarian emergency in the East, Centre, North and in the Sahel regions. Nearly 136,000 people have been uprooted from their homes - over half of them since the start of 2019. Around 11,000 people have also fled to neighbouring Mali for safety.

About 250,000 people do not have access to medical care as health centres have been forced shut or have cut back services. Humanitarian organizations are scaling up operations to support the Government-led response and provide humanitarian aid and protection to the displaced and other people in need.

But the situation remains challenging as tensions and insecurity persist in many areas hit by the inter-ethnic clashes. Many of the displaced are still traumatized and afraid to return home. The authorities and aid partners are mulling alternatives to resettle the displaced in other communities and to find a peaceful and sustainable dispute resolution to eventually allow them return home.

Families uprooted

More than 95 per cent of the displaced are currently living in host communities, depending for most part on the already limited humanitarian aid available. This is putting further strain on an already fragile scenario as violence and drought have triggered alarming levels of food insecurity and malnutrition last year. This year, more than 676,000 people are facing chronic food insecurity, including 587,000 children under five years who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Education on hold

The rise in insecurity and armed attacks has forced more than 954 schools (898 primary and 56 secondary schools) to close, depriving 119,000 children of education in six regions. Some 4,263 teachers have been affected. The northern Sahel region accounts for nearly half of the schools closed.

Several schools have been torched and learning materials destroyed. Three teachers have been killed and others threatened or abducted. Some school children have also been killed in armed raids. In certain localities, not a single school is functioning. The extensive disruption of learning poses a huge concern about the future of children.

A healthcare crisis

Insecurity and violence have forced the closure of 14 health centres, while services in 26 others have been impaired owing to the insecurity and armed attacks. Around 250,000 people have limited or no access to health care.

Patient referrals to bigger hospitals is has become complicated due to lack of ambulances. Armed groups have seized or torched several vehicles. A such patients are forced to pay for their own medical evacuation. The situation is worsened by movement restrictions due to curfews and other security measures by the authorities in Est and Sahel regions, leaving people in insecure areas with no access to medical assistance.

Scaling up the response

Humanitarian partners are scaling up their presence to cope with the escalating needs and increase the scope and pace of operations in support of the Government. Relief efforts are focusing on providing emergency food, water, health services and protection. The National Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation Council (CONASUR) is leading Government aid operations with support from by NGOs and UN aid agencies.

To be able to sustain response activities in such a deteriorating context, humanitarian partners have requested $100.3 million targeting 900,000 people with life-saving aid. To date, only 21 per cent of the funding has been received.

Photos: OCHA/Eve Sabbagh