Deteriorating security in Burkina Faso is affecting the country’s 1.3 million internally displaced people (IDPs), many of whom are being forced to flee their asylum for a second time. A refugee camp was closed after Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie arrived. And rights groups say they are investigating reports that terrorists had infiltrated another camp to commit acts of sexual abuse.
As security in Burkina Faso has deteriorated in recent months, state control outside major cities has waned and terrorist attacks by groups linked to Islamic State, al-Qaeda and local bandits are on the rise. Increasingly, people displaced by conflict are falling prey to terrorists in areas where they once fled for safety.
In June, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie visited the Goudoubo refugee camp in Burkina Faso’s war-torn Sahel province to mark World Refugee Day. During his speech at the camp, the Special Envoy of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said, “This is where the humanity and decency of the world is measured. Where human strength and resilience are most clearly and clearly seen. Not in the glittering capitals of the world, but in places like these.”
The Goudoubo refugee camp was closed last month. After the infiltration by terrorist groups into the camp, the security forces were unable to guarantee security. More than 11,000 refugees living there have since been relocated to the nearby town of Dori.
Aminata, who is one of those refugees and who works with UNHCR on behalf of women refugees from Goudoubo, said, “Today, women come and tell me that all their property lives in Gaudoubo, because they have Didn’t have the strength to take them. They only held the hand of their children to leave the camp.” She said that they have to buy water to survive and that there is no place for their children in schools.
UNHCR security officer in Burkina Faso, Charles Zouke, said the refugees, who are now in Dori, do not have enough resources. “We should help integrate them into Dori,” he said. “In order to do this, it is important for us to arrange for access to the Services for us.”
Last week, 10 civilians and nine soldiers were killed in an attack in Fube in the country’s central north region, while the IDP was caught in the crossfire and forced to flee to nearby Barsalogho.
Human Rights Watch’s West Africa Director Corinne Dufka reported last week an incident of multiple sexual assaults against female IDPs by terrorists at a site in Dablo, near Barsalogho.
The security forces are believed to have left the place a few days before the abuse.
In a statement earlier this week to mark UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet’s visit to Burkina Faso, Human Rights Watch urged the high commissioner to “encourage officials to strengthen security presence in areas that are particularly vulnerable to attack by abusive armed Islamists; strengthen early warning networks; reduce military response times to threatened villages.”
The Ministry of Women, National Solidarity and Humanitarian Action did not respond to a request for an interview on recent IDP victims of terror attacks.