As Burkina Faso faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis due to increased jihadist attacks, we talk to Emmanuel Siambo, head of the Emmaus Solidarité Ouagadougou (ESO) group, about the situation on the ground.
What are the direct consequences for the population?
This war and the constant insecurity faced by the people of Burkina Faso results in everyone living in a state of fear every day.
Life has become very expensive, and is even unaffordable for some. In addition to goods and services, basic goods have become very expensive for the majority of the population. Population movements have a negative impact on the economic and social fabric of both the displaced and the host populations.
How are the Emmaus groups in Burkina Faso working in this context?
The groups in Burkina Faso are also suffering the consequences of these crises: inaccessibility or insecurity in their areas of work, a halt or slowdown in activities, and very high levels of public demand. For them and for the population, resilience is the only way to adapt.
Fortunately, thanks to the solidarity of Emmaus International, we were able to provide vital aid to the displaced population in the last quarter of 2022. This included food, which is a priority need due to the precarious situation of displaced people who no longer have access to land; accommodation for families and schooling for displaced children; protection for women and children, as harmful behaviour is increasing among women and children in order to survive (prostitution, child labour); support for the setting up of income-generating activities, as a medium-term solution to the situation; psycho-social support for people who have been traumatised; and social cohesion and peace-building: our groups are committed to working for peace within their communities and for cohesion between these groups.
Despite this context, are there any prospects for the country to emerge from the crisis? If so, what are they?
Unfortunately, the prospects for economic growth remain compromised by socio-political instability and the deteriorating security situation.
On the military front, the army is stepping up operations to dismantle jihadist bases and disarm terrorists who are disrupting the lives of the population. More than 50,000 volunteers (fighters) for the defence of the homeland (VDP) have been recruited in recent months to bolster the defence and security forces (FDS) on the ground. And it should be noted that thanks to the joint operations of the FDS and the VDP, some locations formerly controlled by terrorist groups have been liberated.
For the time being, the authorities’ priority is the fight against terrorism and insecurity in order to reclaim the territory and create conditions for a gradual return of public administration, basic social services and the civilian population to their places of origin.