Burkina Faso

Following the armed attack in Solhan, UNICEF provides emergency assistance to 9,000 displaced children and their families

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OUAGADOUGOU, 24 June 2021 – Following armed attacks on the village of Solhan in the Sahel region, UNICEF Burkina Faso has deployed emergency assistance in support of the Government and local authorities in the Sebba area, a few kilometers from the affected village. The attack perpetrated in Solhan on 5 June by a non-state armed group resulted in the death of more than 130 civilians, including many children.

According to the authorities, the armed group was mostly composed of children and adolescents aged 12 to 14 years old.

"We strongly condemn the recruitment of children and adolescents by non-state armed groups. This is a grave violation of their fundamental rights. We recall that civilian populations should never be victims or targets of attacks. Families and children should be protected everywhere and at all times," said UNICEF Representative in Burkina Faso Sandra Lattouf.

The humanitarian assistance which will benefit more than 13,000 displaced people, including more than 9,000 children, consists of 2,000 mosquito nets, 500 hygiene and dignity kits, and soap in order to avoid diseases during this rainy period and to maintain good hygiene. In addition, 1,000 tarpaulins needed to provide light shelters were provided to temporarily protect families from bad weather and help children pass their end-of-year exams.

Other emergency response activities were carried out in coordination with the Government of Burkina Faso, sister agencies of the United Nations System and non-governmental organizations to provide immediate assistance including food and access to safe drinking water to vulnerable families.

"After this atrocity, it was essential to provide immediately humanitarian support to the population and to meet their priority needs: hygiene, shelter, food and support for the continuity of education," said Lattouf.

In recent months, attacks and human rights violations against civilian populations have increased. From March to May 2021, security incidents resulted in the deaths of 152 civilians. But in June alone, 178 civilians were killed including children.

Burkina Faso is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Currently, there are more than 1.2 million internally displaced people, 61 per cent of whom are children, compared to more than 136,000 displaced people during the same period in 2019 - ten times more families have been forced to flee their homes because of armed violence in three years.

More than 300,000 children are currently being deprived of their right to education due to the closure of 2,244 schools, or 10 per cent of the country's schools. Around 800,000 people are currently deprived of medical care due to the closure of health centers .

"The children of Burkina Faso are paying a heavy price. Together with UN agencies and our partners, we are mobilizing our resources to reach families and children in the most isolated areas," said UNICEF’s Representative in Burkina Faso.

UNICEF and its partners, in support of the Government, have accelerated emergency assistance to the most vulnerable families. Between January and the end of April 2021, more than 150,000 people benefited from hygiene kits (buckets, soaps, canisters, cups etc.), more than 28,000 severely malnourished children were treated and more than 21,000 children were vaccinated against measles, saving the country from a large-scale epidemic.

To ensure good hygiene practices and to prevent the spread of diseases, UNICEF and its partners have also undertaken the rehabilitation and construction of boreholes and the installation of solar systems benefiting more than 62,000 people in need. Finally, there are more than 12,500 children who have received access to psychosocial support to help them overcome their trauma.

"As we redouble our efforts to support the authorities in addressing this humanitarian crisis in particularly hard-hit areas, we are also supporting the Government at the national level to expand access to social protection, health and education services for children and youth throughout the country," said Sandra Lattouf.

"We must keep the promise made in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child: to protect every child from the consequences of armed conflict, other disasters or emergencies. Together, let's redouble our efforts to protect the children of Burkina Faso," she added.

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More information: Hadrien Bonnaud, Chief Advocacy and communication : hbonnaud@unicef.org Tel: +226 66 93 31 32