Burkina Faso + 3 more

Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger: Population Movement Appeal No. 34/02 Programme Update No. 1

Originally published


Launched on 4 December 2002 for 1,314,000 for 6 weeks. The Programme has been extended for 3 months (until 15 May, 2003) and a budget revision is under consideration (to be reflected in the next Operations Update).
Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) Allocated: CHF 90,000

Beneficiaries: 82,000

Operations Update No. 1; Period covered: 4 December 2002 - 15 January, 2003


Appeal coverage: 26.9%

Related Appeals: 2003 Annual Appeals: Cote d'Ivoire (01.25/2003); Guinea (01.26/2003); Liberia (01.27/2003); Sierra Leone (01.28/2003); Mano River sub-region (01.29/2003) Outstanding needs: CHF 960,310 Summary: This crisis has provided the involved national societies (Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Ghana, and Sierra Leone) with an opportunity to train/retrain and mobilize hundreds of volunteers who are now active in different parts of the respective countries. The Federation and the ICRC have been providing critical assistance in the area of volunteer mobilization, training and management. The Abidjan Regional Delegation provided encouragement incentives for the Mali and Burkina Faso Red Cross volunteers in response to their indispensable voluntary services. Despite the constraints encountered (communications, access, logistics), the Regional Delegation has been able to involve all the national societies in the management of the assistance operation. The presidents of the Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana Red Cross Societies are planning to participate in a regional meeting on the crisis scheduled for 20 and 21 January 2002 in Abidjan. Implementation details related to the Niger component of this appeal will be reflected in Operations Update no. 2 to be prepared and issued shortly.

Operational Developments

With the recent increase in fighting in Cote d'Ivoire and the resulting insecurity, the main objective of the Emergency Appeal was to immediately respond to the pressing humanitarian needs in the neighbouring countries of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger by providing non-food items such as tents, blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans, limited food supplies, potable water, hygiene kits, training or retraining of volunteers from each National Society in instructing the population to reduce the risk of communicable diseases, and administrative and logistics support to the overall operation. These humanitarian needs were identified based on the fact-finding mission carried out by the Federation's West Africa Regional Disaster Response Team (RDRT) in November. A second mission to Mali and Burkina Faso from December 15 to 22 concluded that there was a shift in the needs of the returnees and refugees (for example in Mali, refugees at the Loulouni camp were not only interested in foodstuff but also needed the ingredients to prepare them. They resorted to selling a part of their food ration to villagers to buy the needed ingredients, making it difficult to maintain their ration until the next distribution). The second mission also revealed the presence of a large number of young, idle, sexually active teenagers at the camp and with cases of prostitution becoming rampant around the camp, it was thought wise to step up the campaign on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) especially HIV/AIDS.

Apart from these changes, the first operation in Mali and Burkina Faso have been in line with the set objectives. However, in Niger (despite the enthusiasm shown by the Niger Red Cross and the competent government authorities during the first mission that led to the launching of the Emergency Appeal), the Abidjan Regional Delegation has not been able to assist the national society due to its inability to obtain the government's authorization to carry out relief operations in the targeted zones. The Federation continues to monitor the humanitarian situation in the country and will assist the vulnerable as it has done in Mali and Burkina Faso.

The conflict is becoming increasingly complicated and the implications on the humanitarian situation are serious, with a growing number of displaced. Ivorian residents and West African nationals fleeing intense fighting are now streaming into Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone. Togo and Benin have also been affected by the population movement. This latest development is making the operation more complicated because the course of the population flow changes almost every day. It is in view of this complex situation that the Abidjan Regional Delegation has called a meeting of the Red Cross Societies of Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Liberia, Ghana and Guinea to work out the modalities of a coherent Red Cross approach to the management of the population movement caused by the Ivorian crisis. This meeting is slated for 20 and 21 January 2003 in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.


The ICRC is the lead agency in Cote d'Ivoire and is thus responsible for managing the Red Cross relief operation in collaboration with the Cote d'Ivoire Red Cross. However, the Federation is actively supporting the strategic development and contingency plans of the national society by pairing each department (Information, Disaster Preparedness, Logistics, Health, Finance and Administration) at the Abidjan Regional Delegation with its counterpart at the national society. They have started meeting regularly to exchange ideas and experiences. The Disaster Preparedness Department of the Regional Delegation has also helped the Cote d'Ivoire Red Cross review its contingency plan. The Abidjan Regional Delegation also collaborates with the ICRC and participate in the weekly tripartite (ICRC, Cote d'Ivoire Red Cross and Federation) meetings.

In Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, the national societies are part of the crisis committees and national emergency relief bodies set up by their respective governments. However, the Federation, through the Abidjan Regional Delegation, closely monitors the situation in these countries and is directly involved in the emergency relief operations. Really, the Federation is the only international humanitarian organization that has been offering direct assistance to the refugees and returnees, using its vast network of volunteers.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

The Federation responded immediately to the Ivorian crisis by allocating CHF 90,000 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Cote d'Ivoire Red Cross (CIRC) logistics operations (CHF 40,000) and the overall assessment mission (CHF 50,000). With the support of the ICRC and the Federation, the CIRC has been providing humanitarian assistance to victims of the crisis in different parts of the country (see Information Bulletin 1 and 2, Cote d'Ivoire: Internal Unrest). The Federation's West Africa Regional Disaster Response Team (RDRT) also embarked on two fact-finding missions to neighbouring Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in November and December 2002. The objectives of these missions were to evaluate the humanitarian needs of displaced persons and the operational capacity of the local Red Cross Red Crescent committees. The RDRT missions culminated in the distribution of relief materials in Mali and Burkina Faso in December 2002 and January 2003 respectively.

The Federation has been supporting the Cote d'Ivoire Red Cross in administration, office and communication equipment. Different Programme managers of the Abidjan Regional Delegation met their counterparts at the national society in view of assisting them in capacity building through training and exchange of ideas. The Regional Delegation has assisted the Mali Red Cross to repair a 4-wheel drive car and a truck to facilitate its emergency operations.

Red Cross and Red Crescent Society

Cote d'Ivoire Red Cross

The national society has assisted over 66,000 displaced persons since fighting broke out in different parts of the country on 19 September 2002. Assistance was provided in terms of food (in collaboration with WFP) and non-food items (support from the Federation and ICRC). In Abidjan, where the government had ordered the destruction of shantytowns as a means of preventing insurgents from using them as a hide-out, Red Cross volunteers distributed essential non-food items to thousands of residents rendered homeless by the government move.

In the city of Bouaké, the ICRC assisted the national society in addressing needs in the health, water, sanitation and food sectors. In the early days of the insurgency, the national society, in co-ordination with the ICRC, transported technicians, spare parts and chemical products to Bouaké to repair the damaged water plant. The Cote d'Ivoire Red Cross doctors carried out over 2,000 consultations using Red Cross mobile clinics. In Korhogo (north), the national society donated medical materials to the Korhogo General and Ferkéssedougou Hospitals.

As fighting spreads to other parts of the country, notably in the western cities of Man, Douekoue, Toulepleu and Danane, thus aggravating the problem of displaced persons, the Cote d'Ivoire Red Cross is working round the clock to assist the vulnerable. In collaboration with the ICRC, the national society volunteers made up of nutritionists, food technologists, nurses, midwives and medical doctors are now assisting over 6,000 displaced persons stuck in the premises of a catholic church in Douekoue, 450 kms west of Abidjan.

Burkina Faso Red Cross

Over 3 million Burkinabes are believed to be living in different parts of Cote d'Ivoire. In anticipation of a massive return of these emigrants, the Burkina Faso Red Cross (BFRC) established a crisis committee at its National Headquarters, mobilized, trained/retrained 250 volunteers in different parts of the country, and particularly in the four provinces bordering Cote d'Ivoire. As a member of the National Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation Committee (CONASUR), the BFRC attended co-ordination meetings with all government agencies as well as various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and UN agencies in the country.

When the first group of returnees and West African refugees arrived at the Burkina Faso/ Ivorian border town of Banfora (400 km west of the capital city, Ouagadougou) on 22 September 2002, volunteers of the BFRC local committees were on hand to receive them. Ninety percent of the displaced were children, women and the elderly who had travelled hundreds of kilometres walking, or using bicycles and motorbikes since there was no commuter buses and train due to the closure of the Ivorian border at the onset of the crisis.

They were registered by Red Cross volunteers, in conjunction with the local authorities, given first aid assistance before being transferred to their different localities. Since the Burkinabe government repatriation project "Operation Bayiri" started on 12 November, 9,000 voluntary repatriation has been effected with a large number of returnees entering unregistered. The BFRC has always been available to offer them shelter (both at the volunteers' homes and at the Red Cross offices), first aid and psychological assistance.

Mali Red Cross

The day after the armed conflict erupted in Cote d'Ivoire, a steady stream of refugees and returnees began crossing the border into Mali. Using bush paths to cross the frontier, these people - mostly women, children and the elderly - arrived in a deplorable condition. The Malian Red Cross (MRCS) was the first humanitarian organization to assist the victims, providing each family with food and non- food items such as rice, cooking oil, sugar, soap, mosquito nets and sleeping mats. Working closely with the ICRC, the MRC trained 50 volunteers who have been working round the clock to assist the displaced in the capital city of Bamako, Sikasso (450 kms west of the capital city) and at the Loulouni camp which has been home to almost a thousand refugees of which seventy percent are Ivorians.

The MRC emergency assistance is not limited to Bamako, Loulouni and Sikasso. As fighting continues in the western part of Cote d'Ivoire, Malians and other West African nationals flee into the Guinean town of Nzerekore before crossing the border into Mali. They are received by Red Cross volunteers at the eastern town of Kolondiaba before moving to the capital city of Bamako where another team of volunteers are on standby to receive them at the Modibo Keita Stadium. The MRC also play an important role in the National Crisis Committee set up by the Malian government.

The Niger Red Cross

The UN agencies, in collaboration with other humanitarian organizations, including the Niger Red Cross (NRC) have established a contingency plan to set up and maintain a transit site at Torodi (75 km from the capital city of Niamey) which is yet to be operational. The NRC also takes part in all crisis meetings with relevant government agencies and NGOs.

Relief operations in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger as proposed in the Emergency Appeal

In line with the objectives of the Emergency Appeal launched in December 2002, the Federation has supported the national societies in Mali and Burkina Faso in the distribution of food and non-food items. The Abidjan Regional Delegation continues to monitor the situation in Niger and will intervene as soon as the national society gets the needed authorization from the Government. It is noteworthy that so far, the Federation, in collaboration with the national societies are the only humanitarian organizations that are carrying out direct distribution to the refugees and returnees.

Burkina Faso

Objective 1: Reduce the risk of communicable diseases.

The Red Cross has been assisting the returnees since the first group arrived on 22 September at the Ivorian/ Burkina Faso border. The wounded or injured were given first aid treatment before being sent to the nearest hospital or transferred to a specialist clinic in a bigger town or city.

The Federation provided the national society with medical kits containing antibiotics, anti-malaria drugs and food supplements which are given to the returnees by Red volunteers on the presentation of a prescription note delivered by the resident doctor at the reception centre.

Objective 2: Distribution of food and non-food items

Unlike in Mali, there are no refugee camps in Burkina Faso. There are only transit centres for returnees and some West African nationals on transit to their countries of origin. Displaced persons spend 24 to 48 hours at the transit centres. There are transit centres located in each of the four Burkinabe provinces bordering Cote d'Ivoire and a reception centre at the 4 Aout Stadium in Ouagadougou where beneficiaries of the Faso government's "Bayiri" repatriation programme are received before being dispatched to their places of origin. In all these centres, the displaced arrive in terrible condition and are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

"Operation Bayiri" is a programme set up by the Burkinabe government with the aim of repatriating 1,000,000 Burkinabes by the end of 2002. According to government statistics, as at 7 January 2003, over 50,000 Burkinabes have been repatriated from Cote d'Ivoire either through the government repatriation programme or by personal means.

With the support of the Federation, and in the presence of government authorities, national television/ radio news crew, volunteers of the BRCS distributed basic food and non-food items to the most vulnerable of the returnees - mostly women and children- who arrived on 7 January 2003.

Emergency relief supplies were distributed at the Red Cross National Headquarters and the reception centre at the 4 Aout Stadium. While working in collaboration with the National Emergency Relief Agency, Red Cross volunteers have been able to register all returnees based or staying with relatives in Ouagadougou. They were invited by means of radio announcement to converge at the national society Headquarters to receive their supplies specified below.

BFRC Headquarters

330 beneficiaries (grouped into 66 families) each received:

  • 10 kg of rice.
  • 1.5 kg of sugar.
  • 5 boxes of sardine.
  • 1.5 kg of powdered milk.
  • 3 bars of soap.
  • 1 sleeping mat.
4 Aout Stadium

1,400 beneficiaries (grouped into 281 families) each received:

  • 10 kg of rice.
  • 1.5 kg of sugar.
  • 5 boxes of sardine.
  • 1.5 kg of powdered milk.
  • 3 bars of soap.
  • 1 sleeping mat.
On 8 January 2003, Red Cross volunteers distributed the following to 500 beneficiaries grouped into 100 families: each of them received:
  • 12 kg of rice.
  • 1.5 kg of sugar.
  • 1.5 kg of powdered milk.
  • 3 bars of soap.
  • 1 sleeping mat.
Objective 3: Ensure temporary shelter to returnees.

Apart from spontaneous accommodation provided by Red Cross volunteers at the different border towns, the Burkina Faso Red Cross has 7 tents at the INJESP reception centre in Ouagadougou. These tents are insufficient because they house over a thousand returnees at a given time. Tents intended to shelter 50 persons now contain over one hundred.


Objective 1: Reduce the risk of communicable diseases.

The Mali Red Cross has been giving medical assistance to the refugees in form of consultation, treatment of minor illnesses and referrals. Red Cross volunteers, with the support of the Federation has embarked on a weekly HIV/AIDS awareness session where condoms are distributed to the refugees at the Loulouni camp and Sikasso reception centre.

Objective 2: Support the displaced to maintain sanitation, water points and latrines.

The Federation has agreed to assist the Mali Red Cross in repairing the latrines constructed by UNICEF at the Loulouni camp.

Objective 3: Distribute food and non-food items.

The principal aim of this activity was to meet the pressing humanitarian needs of refugees in Loulouni camp and Sikasso. One major problem experienced was either a shortage in supply (Loulouni camp) or surplus (Sikasso) due to refugees and returnees spontaneous movements. Emergency relief were purchased based on humanitarian assessment made during previous missions. While some refugees are arriving at the camp, others are moving towards Sikasso before either going to Bamako or outside Mali.

On 30 December, the Federation's West Africa Regional Disaster Preparedness Officer arrived at the Loulouni camp in company of MRC staff and volunteers to distribute emergency relief materials to the refugees. Also present during the distribution were the governor of Sikasso, under whose jurisdiction Loulouni falls as well as the representative of the Embassy of Cote d'Ivoire which accounts for 70 percent of the refugees. A television crew from the Malian National Television Corporation (ORTM) also accompanied the Red Cross team during the distribution.

In Loulouni, 520 refugees grouped into 74 families received each:

  • 1 bag of 50-kg rice.
  • 2 packets of tin food.
  • 2 packets of 400g tomato paste.
  • 1 packet of Maggi seasoning.
  • 2.5 kg of granulated sugar.
  • 5 litres of cooking oil.
  • I pack of kitchen utensils containing 2 plates, 2 bowls and 3 cups.
  • 3 cover cloths.
  • 12 sachets of condoms.
  • 5 bars of washing soap.
On 31 December 2002, the Red Cross team moved to Sikasso where it was discovered that many refugees had moved to town because they could not obtain the needed minimum assistance. The 36 persons found on site were grouped into 6 families and given the following items:
  • 1 50-kg bag of rice.
  • 4 packets of tin food.
  • 3 packets of 400g tomato paste.
  • 1 packet of Maggi seasoning.
  • 5 kg of granulated sugar.
  • 5 litres of cooking oil.
  • I pack of kitchen utensils containing 2 plates, 2 bowls and 3 cups.
  • 4 cover cloths.
  • 24 sachets of condoms.
  • 10 bars of washing soap.
Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement -- Principles and Initiatives

The Federation made efforts to explain the Red Cross Movement and to clarify its principles particularly related to the distribution of relief materials related to impartiality and that the Red Cross assists the most vulnerable irrespective of their place of abode, religion, race, etc. This operation has also offered the Federation an opportunity to carry out awareness sessions on HIV/AIDS particularly in Mali and among the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Cote d'Ivoire.

Advocacy/Public Information

The efforts of the Ivorian, Malian and Burkinabe national societies are gaining recognition as a result of their spontaneous assistance to the victims of the Ivorian crisis. Television/radio news crew accompanied the Red Cross emergency response team whenever they went on relief missions. This provided them with an opportunity to pass the Red Cross message and explain its principles which are sometimes not understood during crisis like this.

Outstanding needs

Materials distributed in the two countries are small compared to the needs identified in the appeal. As fighting intensifies in Cote d'Ivoire and with continuous population movement in the West Africa region, there will be a need for more humanitarian assistance delivered to the vulnerable. There is an urgent need for food (rice, cereal, cooking oil, etc.) and non-food items (tents, soap, cover cloths, medical kits) in all the three countries. Emergency assistance should also be envisaged for refugees and returnees in other neighbouring countries ( Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone ) that were not included in the first appeal.

The Abidjan Regional Delegation staff still needs to assist in the capacity building of the national societies through training, field trips and regular exchanges.

The national societies have limited logistics ,communications and telecommunication equipment (vehicles, computers, walkie-talkies, internet access, digital camera). Information gathering from the national societies is often difficult because most of them do not have a functioning communications system. The Federation should assist in providing this type of equipment.

For further details please contact:

  • HoRD ad interim in Abidjan : Eric Michel-Sellier; mobile phone 00225 07 07 51 35; Delegation phone: +225 22 40 44 65; Fax: +225 22 40 44 59

  • in Geneva: Niels Scott (HoRD working at the Africa Desk until end of February 2003); mobile phone: 00225 07 08 10 18; office phone: +41 22 730 44 85; Federation Fax number: 41 22 733 03 95
Donors providing in-kind relief in response to large-scale emergencies are urged to contact the Federation's Logistics and Resource Mobilization Department to avoid any unnecessary delays in the clearance and delivery of emergency relief assistance.

All International Federation Operations seek to adhere to the Code of Conduct and are committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (SPHERE Project) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

This operation seeks to administer to the immediate requirements of the victims of this disaster. Subsequent operations to promote sustainable development or longer-term capacity building will require additional support, and these programmes are outlined on the Federation's website.

For further information concerning Federation operations in this or other countries, please access the Federation website at http://www.ifrc.org.

John Horekens
External Relations Division

Bekele Geleta
Africa Department

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