Warnings of an “escalating humanitarian crisis” in Burkina Faso have been issued by the UN World Food Programme (WFP). Much of the country is under attack by violent extremist groups from the north of the country and Mali. Due to these violent attacks, nearly 300,000 people have been displaced in just the past four months, according to the UN. These people are in severe need of food, shelter, and water as they struggle to find a safe haven in this dangerous area.
Mary Awad, the spokeswoman for the WFP, told Radio France Internationale, “Burkina Faso is one of the three countries that constitutes the central Sahel in West Africa and it’s facing a toxic combination of rapidly escalating armed conflict, which is leading to population displacement in very large numbers.” The UN agency is worried with this growth of displacement and its coinciding humanitarian crisis, that it could turn into the next Syria.
In another interview, Awad told the Guardian, “We don’t want another Syria. I covered Syria for three years and people were more well-versed in the layers of uprising and extremism. But people here have told us they are seeing the exploitation of inequality, with young people joining armed groups.” When these young people join militant groups, it increases the violence across the country. There have also been reports that men from villages are being forced into servitude with these groups.
The UN believes that this crisis will take more than just military aid to stop the tide of violence from spreading. They believe that there must be a coordinated humanitarian effort to help the poor and vulnerable in the country. If this is done, there is a chance that the extremist groups will find less willing volunteers and a harder opposition.
Date published: 01/12/2019
Feature image: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid. Creative Commons
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