UN seeks urgent support for thousands of displaced people in Burkina Faso

UN seeks urgent support for thousands of displaced people in Burkina Faso

About 16,000 people, mostly women and children, driven out of homes by spiraling violence

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – The UN refugee agency on Friday called for urgent support for about 16,000 people in Burkina Faso, mostly women and children, driven out of their homes by a recent insurgent attack that left dozens dead in the country’s Sahel region.

Since June 12, almost 16,000 Burkinabe have arrived in Dori, eastern Burkina Faso, after fleeing the brutal attack, according to a statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Some 360 people are reported to have crossed into the Tillaberi region of Niger, adding to the 15,500 Burkinabe nationals already there who have been forced to flee.

“The UN refugee agency is alarmed at the recent escalation of violence against civilians by armed groups in Burkina Faso that has forced thousands to flee, placing humanitarian resources under strain as insecurity continues to plague the Central Sahel,” UNHCR spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh said.

The latest attack in Seytenga commune, a town 15 kilometers (27 miles) from the border with Niger, occurred on the night of June 11-12.

At least 86 people were killed in the attack, the deadliest single incident in Burkina Faso since more than 130 people were massacred in nearby Solhan in June 2021.

After visiting the scene of the tragedy on Wednesday, junta leader Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba vowed action against the attackers.

Burkina Faso’s displacement crisis is one of the world’s fastest-growing problem, with the number of internally displaced people reaching 1.9 million at the end of April, according to official data.

The West African country has been battling an insurgency that has spread from neighboring Mali over the past decade.

Other countries in the Sahel – Chad, Mali and Niger – also face a combination of violence, poverty and the effects of climate change.

More than 2.5 million people have fled their homes in the Sahel region over the past decade, according to UN figures.

The UN refugee agency said the most urgent needs include shelter and essential items, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene services, and psychosocial support.

UNHCR’s country budget requirements of $109.9 million for 2022 are only 20% funded, it said, calling on the international community for greater solidarity and support for Burkina Faso.

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