United Nations to Increase Relief Efforts in Burkina Faso Amid 1,200 Percent Rise in Forced Displacement

Soldiers stand guard in front of the Splendid Hotel after an attack on the hotel and a restaurant in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, January 18, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Joe Penney)

The United Nations will step up relief efforts in Burkina Faso amid a 1,200 percent increase in forced displacement while some are concerned that the Trump administration could reduce U.S. troops in violence-ridden West Africa despite the president’s vows to defeat the Islamic State. 

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Chief, Filippo Grandi, visited displaced people across the Sahel region (dry land below the Sahara desert) of Africa this week, meeting with widows and children who lost loved ones to Islamic extremism in the region.

Grandi met displaced populations in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger. Those nations are among the West African countries dealing with the rise of extremist groups, some of which are affiliated with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda affiliates that are sheltering terrorists fleeing the Middle East.

Grandi’s visit comes as over half a million people are estimated to have been forcibly displaced in the underdeveloped country of Burkina Faso. The once peaceful country has seen an exponential rise in terror attacks committed by radical groups since 2016.

Violence increased exponentially in Burkina Faso in 2019. Hundreds were killed. In one reported attack last December, 14 were murdered by gunmen who stormed a Sunday church service in eastern Burkina Faso. Most recently, 20 civilians were killed in an overnight attack in northwestern Burkina Faso last Saturday.

According to the UNHCR, the number of people forced to flee their homes in Burkina Faso rose 10-fold in 2019. According to Grandi, 90 percent of the displaced people he saw were mostly women and children.

Grandi heard stories from survivors of the “most horrifying violence” that includes the killing of men and boys by armed groups that raid villages at night.

“After the men and the boys are killed, often they destroy homes and schools,” Grandi said. “The women are obliged to flee, often alone with no means and to take refuge in villages in safer areas, often they are displaced many times.”

One of the women displaced by the violence is Rinata Baguigna.

She told UNHCR about how she watched militants kill 10 of her family members. She said that when the extremists left, she buried the dead. The next morning, she fled with her five children.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith