Content Advisory: Violence

Conflict in Burkina Faso

Conflict in Burkina Faso has displaced 1.2 million people, making it the largest and fastest growing displacement crisis in recent history.

With parts of the country considered most fragile due to political marginalization, climate variability and climate change, the conflict and violence have resulted in an unprecedented humanitarian emergency in a country more traditionally subject to chronic food and nutritional insecurity.

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Meet Awa

At 91 years old, Awa, living in the province of Soum in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, fled conflict that took the life of her grandson Hamidou.

"When we went back to the field, we saw Hamidou's head separated from his body. They took with them his motorbike, the guns he had with him, his wallet, and his phone."

A security volunteer in the area, it was in his own field that an armed group raging around Mentao beheaded Hamidou, leaving behind his family, including 7 children. Awa saw this horrific act of violence when she was taking refuge not far from their plot when the attackers took her grandson’s life.

When leaving, the attackers informed the villagers that they would return the next day to deal with the fate of its inhabitants. Hearing this, the men of the village rushed into the wilderness. While discovering her grandson’s decapitated body lying in blood was traumatic, it was the fear of being some of the only women left in the village that forced Awa and her family flee.

Conflict and Gender

 In Burkina Faso, 80% of IDPs are women and girls. “In conflicts and disasters, women and girls – already burdened by wide-ranging discrimination – often face heightened vulnerability and even deeper discrimination,” says UN Human Right chief, Michelle Bachelet. “Insecurity and displacement also fuel increased sexual and gender-based violence, as well as other crimes and human rights violations such as trafficking, child, early and forced marriages, or denial of access to sexual and reproductive health services.”

"The fear was so great that we followed in their footsteps. We left the village, leaving behind everything we had."

On the Move

During their march, the family stopped in one village. One night, Awa and her family heard gunshots near their hut. They had taken comfort in the idea that the security forces were finally coming to their aid. But the next day, the report was bitter. Blood bathed everywhere around their shelter. They naturally thought it was the blood of cattle, which had also disappeared. When they realized it was the blood of slain men, the family immediately resumed their march onwards.

Upon transport via tricycle to their current place of residence as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Awa, her children and her great grandchildren live in a makeshift shelter. Her rent costs 5,000 CFA francs, the equivalent of $8.60 USD per month.

"Despite our small daily work, we are unable to honor this rent." While her son tries to care for her, Awa shares: "We are begging and are therefore very dependent."

Making Ends Meet

Awa's experience of conflict, with the compounding result of food insecurity, is one story amongst many. Currently, 3.3 million people are facing food insecurity and 25% of children under five are stunted. Our newly launched emergency health and nutrition programs in Burkina Faso are designed to rebuild and transform lives because we believe in a world where everyone has access to the opportunities needed to live a long, healthy, and creative life.

Concern entered Burkina Faso in January 2021 as a response to the rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis in the country and the largest displacement in Africa. The influx of IDPs has resulted in a significant increase in the number of consultations at health centers, which lack capacity to support amidst a lack of supplies to provide a minimum package of services, and insufficient WASH infrastructure.

How You Can Help

Download and share the Burkina Faso One Pager.

Support IDPs like Awa and her family:

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