Burkina Faso: a rise in violence affects the most vulnerable

A small group of Burkinese military soldiers on the road of Gorgadji   A small group of Burkinese military soldiers on the road of Gorgadji Luc Gnago/Reuters

15 October 2020

Burkina Faso’s rural population is being targeted by the national military and local defense militia groups

In comparison to the rest of the Sahel region in Africa, Burkina Faso has generally been a peaceful country. However, since 2018, armed conflict has been steadily increasing due to violent attacks perpetrated by various Jihadist groups, such as the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).  They began to terrorize the rural populations by looting villages and murdering its inhabitants. 

As a response, local defence militia quickly organized with the mission to protect their areas. Unfortunately, this failed to be an effective and beneficial solution as many militias have now practically turned on their own communities and have actively opened fire on innocent civilians. Precisely, earlier this year on March 8th, the Koglweogo self-defense militia murdered 43 people in the Yatenga province. Reports have stated that the Koglweogo viewed them as unfortunate casualties present in an active confrontation with the GSIM. Similarly, on April 9th, 31 residents of Djibo ( northern village) were deliberately murdered by the government’s “Groupement des Forces Anti-Terroristes”(GFAT).

It is quite clear that the Burkinise Government has failed to control the actions of the military. Even worse, they are choosing to ignore these massacres. In the last two years, thousands of Burkinese people have been displaced from their homes due to the ongoing violence. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Burkina Faso is currently ranking 3rd amongst countries with severe displacement crises around the world. Furthemore, the increased instability in the northern regions of the country, has left about 1.5 million Burkinise citizens without a proper access to healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. The international community has called on Burkina Faso’s President, Roche Kabore, to take charge of the current situation. Experts warn that the current trend of military brutality will lure affected citizens towards Islamic Radical groups in search of more protection.

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Author: Sergio Gomez

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