Burkina Faso + 1 more

Burkina Faso: UNHCR Operational Update, 1 July to 31 August 2020

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Continued violence has led over 1 million people to flee in search of safety. This represents 1% of the total population of the country or 1,600 people fleeing every day since January 2020.

The air borders have reopened on 1 August after being closed since the end of March to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Land borders remain closed until further notice.

The Consultations Process for the Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Forced Displacement began in the regions of the Sahel, Centre North and North.

Operational Context

Widespread and indiscriminate violence by armed groups continues in several regions of the country, particularly in the Sahel, East, North and the Centre North. The military, authorities, local leaders and civilians are regular targets of the attacks. On 8 July, the Mayor of Pensa in the Centre North was ambushed and killed. A month later, on 11 August, the Grand Imam of the city of Djibo was kidnapped by armed groups. A few days later his body was found. His death comes months after the killing of the Mayor of Djibo in November 2019.

The deterioration of the security situation has resulted in over 1 million people displaced, including a majority of woman and children. This represents 1% of the population of the and an average of 1,600 people forcibly displaced has been recorded every day from January 2019 to August 2020 – making Burkina Faso the fasting growing humanitarian and protection crisis in the world. People have often moved multiple times and numbers are expected to continue to rise, possibly to 1.5 million by the end of the year. Needs remain critical in the areas of protection, shelter, food, water, and health.

Despite facing internal turmoil, Burkina Faso has continued to generously host Malian refugees. Insecurity has also impacted the nearly 20,000 refugees still present in the country and recently prompted them to flee from Goudoubo and Mentao camps to Dori and Djibo respectively and other locations or return to Mali.

Humanitarian access to the Sahel, Centre North and North regions is becoming increasingly challenging. In the Sahel in particular, armed groups are slowly isolating cities as is the case of the city of Djibo which remains an enclave. Recently, a few incidents of diversion of humanitarian aid by such groups have been reported. Despite this complex operating environment, UNHCR continues to deliver protection and assistance to those forcibly displaced through its offices in Ouagadougou, Kaya, Dori, Ouahigouya, Bobo Dioulasso and through the presence of two refugee UN Volunteers in Djibo.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which started in March, is adding to an already extremely complex humanitarian situation. As of 31 August, there have been 1,375 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 55 deaths and 1,075 recoveries. 245 cases remain active. To date, there are no confirmed cases amongst populations of concern to UNHCR nor UNHCR staff. The Government had put in place some measures to curb the spread of the virus which have now been progressively eased, with the end of the curfew, reopening of the markets and places of worship, amongst others. Air borders reopened on 1 August, while land borders remain closed until further notice. The socio-economic impact of the sanitary crisis has further exacerbated existing vulnerabilities and needs amongst the host communities as well as displaced populations.