Burkina Faso + 25 more

UNHCR West and Central Africa Update - August - November 2020

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REGIONAL OPERATIONAL UPDATE - MAIN HIGHLIGHTS

Political and security developments

▪ Insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin region persists as armed groups continue to attack civilians and humanitarian workers. On 26 November, an estimated 110 farmers were killed by Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria’s Borno State. This massacre follows a long series of attacks in northeastern Nigeria, including a June incident where armed groups abducted and killed five aid workers near Monguno town. Humanitarian access to refugees and internally displaced persons remains severely limited outside areas with a large military presence.

▪ In Cameroon, conflict in the North-West and South-West regions continues to cause mass displacement – both internally and into neighboring Nigeria – and armed groups continue to target educational institutions and civilian populations. On 3 November, armed men kidnapped eleven teachers from a school in Kumbo. On 4 November students and teachers were tortured during an attack on a college in Limbe, and on the same day nine school children were kidnapped and later released in Fundong.

▪ In Mali, persistent insecurity and deteriorating economic conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a steep rise in trafficking of children, forced labour and forced recruitment by armed groups across the country. According to the latest report of the UNHCR-led Global Protection Cluster, 220 cases of child recruitment were documented in the first half of 2020, compared to 215 cases in all of 2019. The victims are disproportionately boys working at eight mining sites but also Malians, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Women and girls are also victims of abduction, sexual assault and rape, and in the Mopti region alone more than 1,000 cases have been recorded \ in 2020. Many refugees and migrants heading to northern Africa and Europe through Mali are also at high risk of being trafficked and forced into labour.

▪ In Burkina Faso, presidential and legislative elections were successfully held on 22 November despite dire security conditions and widespread displacement across the country. UNHCR’s sustained efforts to facilitate access to civil documentation for displaced persons (IDPs) has been crucial to enable their participation in the election. In 2020, over 82,500 civil documents – including national identity cards – were issued to IDPs across the country with the support of UNHCR. UNHCR is working with the authorities throughout the region to facilitate the participation of eligible displaced persons – particularly IDPs as well as refugees and returnees – in upcoming elections. Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Ghana and Niger all have national or local elections planned before the end of 2020.