What's Happening in Burkina Faso?

ShelterBox NZ International Disaster Relief Burkina Faso

The world’s fastest-growing humanitarian crisis is currently unfolding in Burkina Faso.

Over 1 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to extremist violence.

Read more about what is causing violence in Burkina Faso, learn what the Sahel crisis is, and see how ShelterBox is helping.

The Conflict

Nongoma and her seven children are just one of the thousands of families who fled the violence. They have been living in a camp for internally displaced people since December 2019.

Burkina Faso is under threat from extremist attack in the Sahel, a belt of semi-arid land south of the Sahara Desert.

Less than ten years ago, Burkina Faso seemed like a beacon of stability in West Africa. In 2015, the country held its first democratic election ever, paving the way to what seemed like a bright future.

But since 2015, Burkina Faso has seen an increase in violence from Jihadist groups, spreading from Mali. Armed groups quickly started expanding, crossing borders and setting up local groups across the Sahel region – including Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

Since 2019, insecurity has reached devastating levels and the number of Burkinabe people fleeing violence has skyrocketed.

Right now, Burkina Faso is one of the fastest-growing displacement crises in the continent.

According to the UN, more than one in every 20 people are forced to flee the violence.

Where is Burkina Faso?

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country situation in West Africa.

The country is surrounded by Mali to the north and west, Niger to the northeast, Benin to the southeast, and Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo to the south.

Its capital, Ouagadougou, saw a horrific terrorist attack at the beginning of 2016 which left 28 people dead, and 56 people injured.

The Sahel Crisis Explained

The central Sahel region, which includes the countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, is facing one of the fastest-growing displacement crises in the world.

Yet, it is one of the most forgotten.

It is estimated that over 2.7 million people have been forced to flee their homes and at least 13.4 million are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

The Sahel region of Africa is a 2,398 mile arc-like land mass lying to the immediate south of the Sahara Desert and stretching from east to west across the breadth of the African continent.

Families started fleeing the central Sahel region in 2011, after a violence outbreak in Northern Mali.

Increased displacement was reinforced by poverty, food insecurity, unemployment and the presence of armed groups. Climate change is also a challenge for families trying to flee.

How is ShelterBox Helping?

ShelterBox NZ international disaster relief Burkina Faso
Issaka and his daughter Adama received ShelterBox aid in 2020. Isaaka said: "We are very happy with what we received. As displaced people, this is the first time we have had such help. [...] Thank you to everyone involved, may God give you long life so that you can continue to help all those in need".

Some of the families forced to flee the violence in Burkina Faso are able to stay with relatives or friends – but many more are in crowded camps or buildings, such as schools.

The insecurity and instability in the country makes it difficult for aid workers to reach some of the people in need, and coronavirus is making the situation even worse.

A lack of resources is further hampering aid efforts across the country’s 13 regions – all of which are hosting displaced people.

Despite the challenges for humanitarian organisations, we have been working with our partner Help to support the most vulnerable communities. We first started working in Burkina Faso in 2020, supporting families with tarpaulins, kitchen sets, water carriers, sleeping mats, high thermal blankets, mosquito nets and solar lights.

Last year, we worked again with Help to support more families with tarpaulins, kitchen sets, sleeping mats, blankets, and other essential items, including soap and buckets. Aid distributions are completed.

Meet Yabre

ShelterBox international disaster relief Burkina Faso

Yabre is one of the thousands of people who fled, leaving everything he owned behind. He is now living with his family in a camp for people who have fled the violence and have nowhere else to go.

We have provided Yabre and his family with tarpaulins, kitchen sets, mosquito nets and other essential aid items.

Yabre described the moment his life changed forever:

When there were attacks in the market, we had no choice but to flee the village. We fled without taking anything with us. All the livestock remained in one place. We were welcomed in the schools for shelter then we came here