Escalating violence in Burkina Faso forces thousands to flee

A Malian woman at the entrance of Goudobou camp in Burkina Faso A Malian woman at the entrance of Goudobou camp in Burkina Faso UNHCR/Brian Sokol

19 March 2020

UNHCR reiterates its call for the protection of civilian population in Burkina Faso

On March 13, 2020 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson, Babar Baloch, held a press briefing on the current situation in Burkina Faso. The recent violence in the country has forced at least 14,000 people to flee their homes in the last 17 days. At the moment, 780,000 people are internally displaced. An ever-growing number of people are searching for safety in other towns in Burkina Faso or trying to flee to Mali. According to UNHCR, more than 2,035 people have already fled to Mali.

Burkina Faso, situated in the centre of the Sahel region, hosts over 25,000 Malian refugees who are now considering returning to their home country. Amidst an increase of violence in March in North-East Burkina Faso, refugee camps and villages have been targeted. Moreover, access to schools and markets has been limited and health facilities have been weakened. This insecurity threatens not only the local population but also thousands of refugees from Mali. Babar Baloch has reported that 70% of 8,781 Malian refugees living in Goudoubo have already left the camp to return to their home country. But while Malian refugees are voluntarily leaving Burkina Faso, other refugees from Burkina Faso have also arrived in Bankass, near the Malian town of Mopti.

UNHCR has expressed concern over the volatile security situation and has warned of a displacement emergency in the wider Sahel region. The United Nations Agency is facing severe challenges in responding to the needs of those fleeing violence. Hence, Babar Baloch has underlined that “humanitarians need safe access to deliver assistance [….] with a particular focus on shelter, education, sexual and gender-based violence”.


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Author: Silvia Luminati; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

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