Burkina Faso

SOS Children's Villages in Burkina Faso keep going after political unrest

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Country severely affected by conflict in Côte d’Ivoire
22/04/2011 – All programmes in Burkina Faso are safe and untouched amidst the unrest, reports Nyantudré Ousséni, director of SOS Children’s Villages in the country. "The noise of gunshots in the night were heard around the village in Ouagadougou on 14 April. Buildings and shops were ransacked. Everybody stayed in the houses and all the children are safe. Since Monday [18 April] it has calmed down with the changes announced by the President. This violence is unprecedented in Burkina Faso,” reports Nyantudré Ousséni.

Two weeks ago there was a nationwide three-day curfew from 21.00 to 06.00. Since 17 April a restriction of movements along the same hours was imposed again in the capital Ouagadougou. Children and staff of SOS Children’s Villages are getting accustomed to it, hoping for it to end soon - especially as life is already impacted by the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire in the form of electricity cuts and a sharp rise in food prices.

Multi-faceted unrest Since mid-March, the capital and outlying towns experienced a period of multi-faceted unrest fuelled by student discontent, frustration with the cost of living and disputes between the military and the civilian authorities. Students protests last month expressing outrage at a young man's death in custody led to anticipated closure of universities for holidays. On 14 and 15 April soldiers protesting their pay lead to violent outbreaks during which both public and private property were looted and shots fired into the air in Ouagadougou and in Bobo-Dioulasso, the country's second-largest city. This violence provoked the anger of the general public and traders and they took to the streets on 16 April, staging a counterprotest against rising food prices and the past week’s lootings, attacking public buildings. There have been reports of injuries. On 19 April, Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore appointed the ambassador to France as the new prime minister to restore stability.

Severe challenges for Burkina Faso as the chaotic situation in neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire impacts daily life Burkina Faso is a poor landlocked country in West Africa, with 15 million inhabitants facing severe development challenges, an economy that remains strongly dependent on cotton exports and a vulnerability to both natural disasters and fallout from conflicts seen in the nearby West African countries. A combination of climatic shocks, the energy crisis, fluctuating commodity prices and global financial crisis resulted in 2011 in an increase in vulnerability among the poor.

Three million people from Burkina Faso work in Côte d'Ivoire. The country, as Mali, is already receiving returnees and refugees. Foreign workers flee Côte d'Ivoire as they become targets for violent groups. Burkina Faso and Mali, two of the world's poorest countries, are expecting up to 50,000 people. The continuing unrest in Côte d'Ivoire impacts on the functioning of the food markets and livelihoods of people, including the provision of electricity and available routes for exportation of goods produced in Burkina Faso.

SOS Children’s Villages in Burkina Faso SOS Children’s Villages has been working in Burkina Faso since 1995. In Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso we are supporting some 2,000 children and their families through alternative child care, educational and family strengthening programmes.