Fresh upsurge in violence in Burkina Faso has internally displaced more than a million people, according to the country’s National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (CONASUR).
This figure represents a 100 per cent increase compared to early 2020, when Burkina Faso counted some 450,000 internally displaced persons.
Chief of Mission of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Burkina Faso, Abibatou Wane, says “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.”
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.
Adding, Wane says, “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.”
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 peace-building and social cohesion activities.
As part of the COVID-19 response, the Organisation 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 $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 stabilisation activities to strengthen social cohesion between refugees, IDPs and host communities.
A rise in violence and the multi-layered humanitarian crisis in the Central Sahel region have resulted in the internal displacement of 1.25 million people.
The UN migration agency appealed for $37.8 million to scale-up its operations, provide urgent life-saving assistance and address the transition and recovery needs of 460,000 individuals in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
More than three million people struggle with severe food insecurity and 9.4 million are in dire need of assistance in these countries at a time when COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout West Africa.
Furthermore, the closure of markets and borders meant to prevent the spread of the disease is limiting livelihood opportunities and further aggravating an already dire situation.
Significant gaps remain in the humanitarian response due to the lack of resources and access in some areas. As part of its efforts to support the response of governments, IOM is scaling up its operations in the three countries, in coordination with local partners to ensure those in needs receive assistance.
Through the appeal, IOM is hoping to provide shelter and non-food items in communities most affected by displacement and temporary collective sites. It will also help IOM continue implementing community stabilisation activities to reinforce social cohesion between refugees, IDPs and host communities.
IOM acting Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Sophie Nonnenmacher, said “the COVID-19 response should not be implemented at the expense of existing programmes and activities.
“Alleviating the urgent needs of the affected population and stabilising the region, at security and economic levels, should remain a priority if we want to prevent the next humanitarian emergency. Distracting our attention from the deteriorating situation in the Sahel could wipe out the collective efforts made over decades.”
The region presents specific obstacles related to the weakness of basic social services including health care, low-income economies and an informal sector which limits livelihoods options.
These challenges are compounded by growing security issues – such as violent extremism and inter-communal tensions –unfolding against a backdrop of climate change, land degradation and water scarcity.
Additional funding requirements for COVID-19 related programming in the targeted countries have been included in IOM’s $54 million West and Central Africa Regional Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.
IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s plans and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by, or at risk of, crisis and displacement in 2020 and beyond.
The Platform is regularly updated as crises evolve and new situations emerge.