Burkina extremist attacks force 160,000 to flee in a month

A woman carries a sieve and a stick to grind the grains at a camp for internally displaced people in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Jan 29, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

OUAGADOUGOU (AFP) - The number of displaced people in Burkina Faso has reached 1.7 million after 160,000 were forced to flee Islamist violence in January, a group of international charities said on Thursday (March 10).

"Since January 2019, the displaced population in Burkina has risen 2,000 per cent, with 1.7 million people uprooted," said a statement from the group that includes Medecins du Monde and the Norwegian Refugee Council.

"More than two-thirds are children," it said.

The 160,000 over the sole month of January compared with 237,000 people from January to July last year, according to official figures.

The charities voiced concern that the Ukraine war will impact the level of humanitarian aid for impoverished Burkina.

"Some donors have already indicated that they will reduce their financing by 70 per cent in order to support operations in Ukraine," said Medecins du Monde country director Safia Torche.

"We are very worried this will become a trend, making access to care and basic services even more complicated for those internally displaced in Burkina," Ms Torche added.

"The crisis in Ukraine will probably cause cereal prices to rise, making an already bad situation worse," said ActionContrelaFaim Burkina director Gregoire Brou.

He estimated that three million people face food insecurity in the country.

The landlocked Sahel state has a long history of volatility since gaining independence from France in 1960.

More than 2,000 people have died in the Islamist insurgency since the first attacks in 2015, according to an AFP tally.

A junta seized power on Jan 24, toppling elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore and has pledged to hold elections in three years.

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