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Burkina Faso Conflict Forcing Many To Choose Between Hunger And Safety- NRC

The Norwegian Refugee Council warns that ineffective and insufficient humanitarian response is forcing people to choose between violence and hunger

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), has said forced displacement from a new surge in violence, had caused an average of 13,000 people to flee their homes since April in Burkina Faso.

Manenji Mangundu, Director of the NRC in Burkina Faso, stated on Monday, Sept. 13 that “attacks by armed groups in Solhan and Arbinda towns that killed 500 civilians,” were the two deadliest in Burkina Faso’s recent history.

Despite soaring conflict, the humanitarian operation to assist people in need is falling far behind, he said.

 “A critical shortage in aid funding, combined with a lack of capacity from local authorities, is preventing relief agencies like ours from responding in time.”

The NRC’s Director cited cases of many people that told  NRC  they want to return home to access their food stocks and feed their families, but fear attacks.

Mohammed, a farmer displaced from his family, said his home in Kombri, “has enough to feed but at a risk for his life compared to Ouahigouya where there is no assistance.” 

However, Mohammed is just an example as other displaced persons make a different but equally painful choice: “stay in a besieged area where food shortages have turned so critical there are only leaves to eat, or walk for up to several days in search of food,” Mangundu said.

“Dozens of women from Mansila town have trekked 40 kilometres to Sebba town with their children over the past few weeks to seek help but have not received any assistance since they fled.”

Bandé, a mother who escaped from Mansila told NRC that “hunger makes you scream for help but no one’s coming. People feel they are no longer part of Burkina Faso. We feel that we are not worthy of assistance, If the choice is dying on the way, or dying of hunger in Mansila, better at least die trying to get out.”

The NRC’s Director also revealed that due to the increasing numbers of displaced persons, government authorities are struggling to register affected people.

“Since June, humanitarian organisations have requested for registration and information sharing to be done within one week, which takes several weeks before newly displaced families can receive assistance such as food and shelter,” Mangundu said.

“We appeal to the government to let us step in and support. Relief organisations have the capacity to assist people in the most inaccessible areas where aid is urgently needed.”

“The failure to address urgent humanitarian needs forces vulnerable families to make an impossible choice between feeding their children and their own safety.”

He called for an humanitarian aid appeal for the country and asked for some USD 607 million to meet the needs in 2021. “It is only 24 per cent funded so far,” he said.

Since April alone, over 275,000 people have been displaced and over 1.4 million people are internally displaced in Burkina Faso, according to the Government’s humanitarian arm, CONASUR.

Between May and August, it has been estimated by INSO that over 480 civilians have been killed in attacks in the country and an estimate of 4.8 million people are food insecure and 2.9 million people in acute food insecurity.


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