This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Escalating violence has now driven more than one million people from their homes in Burkina Faso, 453,000 since the start of the year, according to figures published Monday night by national authorities.
Five per cent of the country’s entire population – an astonishing 1 in 20 people – is now displaced in the world's fastest-growing humanitarian and protection crisis. Attacks by armed groups in the north and east of the country have forced people to move multiple times and are set to push the numbers still higher.
Most of the displaced fled the northern and eastern regions of the country, often being forced to flee multiple times. The two regions of the Centre Nord and the Sahel host some 76 per cent of all IDPs.
Host populations are at a breaking point as they share the little resources they have while also facing themselves poverty, strained health services and rapidly disappearing livelihoods. For people who have fled wars and persecution and for the communities hosting them, the additional impact of COVID-19 is devastating.
They desperately need shelter, food, water, protection, health. Education also remains a priority, as over 2,500 schools have been forced to close after being targeted thus affecting almost 350,000 students.
While facing record displacement, Burkina Faso has generously hosted Malian refugees since 2012. The nearly 20,000 refugees still in Burkina Faso also find themselves facing insecurity. Earlier this year, following attacks and ultimatums by armed groups, the Goudoubo refugee camp, which up until then was home to 9,000 refugees, effectively emptied as they have fled to seek safety elsewhere.
Living conditions in Mentao, the other refugee camp, have also been worsening, with violence severely restricting access. Most of the 6,000 refugees living there were forced to move to the nearby town of Djibo. Together with the authorities, UNHCR is working to prepare the relocation of refugees to a safer place, where assistance and access to basic services can be provided.
Responding to the humanitarian and protection crisis in the Sahel, UNHCR launched in June a US$186 million appeal to mainly provide lifesaving protection and assistance to refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities in the central Sahel region, which includes Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
With funds available representing 53% of the appeal, UNHCR is providing more core relief items and shelters, to decongest the most overcrowded sites. Teams are also working to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, which has become widespread and aggravated by confinement and overcrowding. We are also rehabilitating schools and classrooms and providing distance learning opportunities.