from ISSOUF TRAORE in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
OUAGADOUGOU – VIOLENCE across the Sahel region has displaced more than 8 000 civilians from their homes in Burkina Faso since the beginning of the year.
Tragically, at least 32 people were killed and scores injured in a string of attacks last week.
The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has added a new dimension to the insecurity perpetrated by Islamist groups.
Militant attacks have also affected some 25 000 Malian refugees, who lived in remote camps near the border of the two countries.
Following attacks and ultimatums by armed groups, the Goudoubo refugee camp, recently home to 9 000 refugees, is now also empty as they have fled to seek safety elsewhere.
The violence also forced United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHR) to relocate staff out of the Mentao refugee camp, near the northern town of Djibo, in November 2019.
Babar Baloch, the spokesperson of the UNHCR, said the volatile security situation in Mali did not allow many refugees to return to their places of origin.
Mali is also afflicted by its own crisis, mostly rebellions by Islamists and ethnic clashes.
He added that insecurity persisted and Malian authorities had imposed a curfew as part of the COVID-19 response.
“This has further fuelled security and health concerns among vulnerable groups,” Baloch said.
Nonetheless, UNHCR and Malian authorities have registered nearly 3 000 refugees in Gao, Mopti and Timbuktu regions.
Refugees have arrived in rented trucks and on camel backs.
UNHCR is also providing authorities with health and hygiene equipment as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mali has of this past weekend confirmed 41 cases of the virus and three deaths.
– CAJ News