• More than a million people have been internally displaced by the upsurge in violence in Burkina Faso. Photo: IOM/Judicael Lompo

     

  • More than a million people have been internally displaced by the upsurge in violence in Burkina Faso, according to the country’s National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (CONASUR) findings in an August 2020 report.

    This figure represents a 100 per cent increase compared to early 2020, when Burkina Faso counted some 450,000 internally displaced persons.

    “One in 20 people is now internally displaced in Burkina Faso. This figure is alarming. The majority of displaced persons are women and children, and their needs are enormous, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic which has upended an already complex and multifaceted humanitarian crisis,” said Abibatou Wane, Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Burkina Faso.

    Provinces in the country’s Sahel Region–including Sanmatenga (118,570), Soum (105,116), Bam (42,388), Seno (19,205) and Namentenga (10,601)–remain the main areas of origin of displaced persons.

    “The displaced communities’ situation and needs require a greater commitment from the different partners to assist the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost everything, or almost everything when they fled their homes to save their lives,” IOM’s Wane added.

    Internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have fled their homes under the threat of armed attacks are often destitute as they seek safety. According to the CONASUR, their priority needs include shelter, food, health, cash for immediate needs, and work.

    “Many of us, we women, are raising our children alone. We need support to help us carry out income-generating activities to better care for our children,” pleads Fatima, a displaced woman who has been living at the Youba displacement site in the northern region for almost seven months. Her only wish today is to rebuild her life safely and with dignity.

    IOM, with the support of its partners, is working alongside other United Nations agencies to assist these populations in the Sahel, North, Centre-North and East regions. IOM provides displaced communities with emergency shelter and psychosocial support and conducts peacebuilding and social cohesion activities.

    As part of the COVID-19 response, the Organization also supported the 34 health centres in the North and Sahel regions with COVID-19 protective equipment and hygiene kits, and conducted awareness-raising activities for the benefit of host communities and IDPs.

    In June, IOM appealed for USD 37.8 million to provide life-saving emergency assistance to 460,000 people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in response to the rising violence and multi-dimensional humanitarian crisis in the Central Sahel region. One third of the appeal was for shelter and non-food aid items for IDPs, while another third was earmarked for the continued implementation of community stabilization activities to strengthen social cohesion between refugees, IDPs and host communities.