Burkina Faso + 7 more

West Africa: Humanitarian situation report 10 Mar 2008

Situation Report
Originally published



- Price hikes spark violence in Burkina Faso

- Some 40 vehicles ambushed by unidentified armed individuals in Casamance

- Efforts made to normalize the situation on the Mali-Guinea border

- The Lancet launch in Dakar

- An initiative seeking to restore child nutrition in the Sahel

- Calendar to step up Mauritanian refugees' return

- Approximately US$ 222 million to step out of crisis in Côte d'Ivoire

- An Avian flu fighting programme for Africa

- CERF allocates US$20 million to four West African countries


Burkina Faso : Violent demonstrations caused by rising prices

On 28 February, young demonstrators clashed with police forces in Ouagadougou during a day long " ville morte " which was organized in protest against the rising prices in the past weeks. Hundreds of youth vandalized urban property in the city center and in several Ouagadougou neighborhoods before confronting security forces. Most stores and several banks remained closed in the afternoon while several hundred police and gendarme elements were posted at major intersections in affected sectors . Multiple arrests were made.

The week before, the Burkinabé government announced a three month suspension of custom duties on mass consumption products such as rice, milk (powder or concentrated), pasta and salt. This measure followed the violent nation wide demonstrations which degenerated on 20 and 21 February in protest against the high costs of living and would resorb the hiking prices. 200 people were arrested of which more than 100 will be brought to justice, charged with the destruction of private and public property. The government engaged dialogue with local producers of basic goods such as sugar, oil and soap in order to discuss drastic price reductions. The expected losses following these measures are estimated by the Ministry of Economy and Finance at FCFA 6 billion.

Early February, the Burkinabé government decided to increase the surveillance of prices for mass consumption goods as some faced a 67% increase in the course of one month in January.

Some 40 vehicles ambushed by unidentified armed individuals in Casamance

According to the Army's Direction of public information (Dirpa), some 30 unidentified armed individuals dressed in military fatigues ambushed on 27 February some 40 vehicles between Badiouré and Diabir, six kilometres from the town of Bignona, in the west of Casamance. The assailants stole passengers' valuables and money.

Ambushes on vehicles are recurrent in Casamance and often resulting in people injured. Casamance is an area difficult to control. Road attacks and assassinations of State representatives have followed an independent rebellion movement and caused hundreds of deaths since 1982. A general peace agreement signed in December 2004 between Senegalese authorities and the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) was meant to put an end to the conflict but in the past two years, sporadic fights have opposed Senegalese army and dissident branches of the ex-rebellion.

Efforts to normalise the situation on the Mali-Guinea border

Following violent clashes in Siradiouiba on 5 November 2007, border authorities from Guinea and Mali met on 23 February at Yanfolila (Sikasso region, 400 km from Malian capital Bamako) in order to normalize relations between residents of the Mali-Guinea border area. They exchanged on several issues including the current situation prevailing on the common border and the impact of the joint military patrols that were created after the 27 December agreement protocol. On 23 and 24 November, ministers in charge of border issues in the two countries recommended legal pursuit of the individuals who committed crimes along the border as well as their accomplices. In order to improve the monitoring missions, they appealed for the upgrading of the cross border security communication means and technology..

For conflict prevention and resolution in West Africa

On 27 February, an international workshop on conflict prevention and efficient resolution was organized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS). The objective of the workshop was to increase the sub-regional capacities in order to face the challenges posed by conflicts. Numerous personalities took part in the workshop, including ECOWAS Commission Chairman, West Africa Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, as well as the Head of OCHA Regional Office in West Africa. In addition, the United States of America contributed actively in the organization of the workshop through the ACSS, a Department of Defense body, which serves to link active civilians and military in the field of security across Africa.

Côte d'Ivoire: Forestry exploitation: US$ 415 million of losses in rebel zone

The Ivorian society for development of forest plantations (Sodefor) announced on 15 February losses of FCFA 186 billion ( about US$ 415 million) in five years of crisis attributed to illegal forest exploitation, mainly Teck wood, in areas controlled by ex-rebellion in the northern part of the country. Teck wood is well appreciated for it is resistant to fire and is reportedly convoyed in neighbouring countries, mainly in Burkina Faso and Mali before being exported to India. Alledgedly, the loss considerably reduced the reforestation operations of 5,000 hectares against 2,000 presently, a degradation of the ecosystem that would contribute to the fall of rural populations'standard of living.

In addition, Sodefor is taking advantage of the current political period of calm in the country to launch an reforestation operation in the north with the assistance of the national programme of community reinsertion and rhabilitation (PNRRC). The PNRRC places demobilized ex-rebel fighters at the service of Sodefor sections. Sodefor manages 2.1 million hectars in the government controlled south, nearly half of the Côte d'Ivoire estimated 4.19 million hectares of forest. The other half is composed of 113 classified forests that were forgotten after the 2002 conflict and remain without any development programme. Sodefor advocates for international donors'assistance in order to mobilize FCFA 150 billion (more than US$334 million) for the rehabilitation of forests in the north and maintain the management of those in the government controlled zone.

NB: OCHA does not necessary share the views expressed in this document. OCHA does not guarantee the accuracy of the reports mentioned in the document.

For further information on the humanitarian situation in West Africa and to consult other reports on the humanitarian situation in the region: http://ochaonline.un.org/westafrica

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To be included in or excluded from the distribution list of the Report on the Humanitarian Situation in West Africa, or to contribute to the next monthly report, please Mr. Ndiaga Seck at: seckn@un.org

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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