Pandemic overshadows conflicts: at least 50 killed in Burkina Faso

Internally displaced in Burkina Faso build up shelters in Dori Internally displaced in Burkina Faso build up shelters in Dori Judicael Lompo/ IOM

5 June 2020

Violence between national forces and terroristic groups increase in the East of the country

Due to major reporting on COVID-19-crisis worldwide, numerous ongoing armed conflicts seem to be out of sight but still continue to claim the lives of civilians and lead to additional fights for survival during pandemic. 

During the past two months a new wave of aggression between national security forces and various armed groups in villages of eastern Burkina Faso have led to killings, abductions and lootings. Clashes by local self-defence groups and extremists linked to so-called Islamic State and al-Qaeda have increased dramatically. In recent attacks against civilians at the beginning of June at least 50 were killed over 48 hours in various regions of the country.

The clashes have uprooted thousands of families, who have fled to the towns of Gayeri and Fada eastwards. According to testimonies given to the staff of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the regions, the survivors who suffered or witnessed extreme violence during the clashes, had to walk for days to reach a safe haven and many had loved one who lost their lives in the attacks. The violence has left deep psychological scars. 

Additionally, Burkina Faso has reported more than 800 cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak was first confirmed in the country in March. The fragile health system may not be able to halt the crisis. Poverty, water shortages and the so-called “hunger gap” during the upcoming rain season might enforce the already tensed situation in the country, which after years of violence is too weak to face an additional health crisis. Also, affected civilians in remote areas and violence affected areas cannot be reached by aid organisations.

International aid organisations call out to global leaders to get the pandemic under control as support in conflict affected countries during crisis must be guaranteed. “Tackling the COVID-19 pandemic should remain a priority, but it must not overshadow other acute needs” states Abdallah Hussein, MSF head of mission in Burkina Faso.


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Author: Theresa Bender-Säbelkampf; Translator: Simona Smacchi

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