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Burkina Faso: 30,000 new army auxiliaries to fight terrorism

This photograph taken on November 16, 2022 shows men standing in line with their application letters to enrol as a Volontaire pour la Défense de la Patrie - VDP.   -  
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Burkina Faso

People from all walks of life are signing up to join Burkina Faso's new volunteer programme in Ouagadougou.

At this military processing station in Ouagadougou, men with different backgrunds enrol in Burkina Faso's new volunteer programme. 

The nation grappling with a jihadist insurgency which has continually extended its deadly grip, called for civilian backup in October.

"Considering what is happening to my nation, we have lost our land, as a butcher I have made many trips but I can no longer travel", Ablassé Kaboré explains.

"And I have lost too many friends... I have friends who used to pan for gold in the bush to the east, all of them have returned to Ouagadougou and others are dead... when I speak I feel like crying even... I am ready to die for my country."

Burkina Faso launched a drive to recruit 50,000 civilian defense volunteers. Among them, volunteers for the defense of the homeland. These men and women are on a mission to protect, the people and property of their localities of origin alongside the defense and security forces.

"We women have our strategies, it is like a family, the nation is your home, it is your house", Edwige Nikiéma says. 

"How can you make your house, your home, a success? We mustn't expose our strategies or people can exploit them! no! We have our strategies, the men also have their strategies, we are all here to defeat terrorism."

Jihadi violence has killed thousands of people since 2015. The last elected president was deposed after he faced a wave of anger over the insurgency. According to professor Zakaria Soré, the army is adjusting tactics to swell its ranks.

"The reality of the country is that the army and other security and defense forces are not able to cover the entire territory, so when we look at it, there is a networking problem that means that there is a lot of territory that is not covered by the defense and security forces, so recruiting 50,000 volunteers means hoping to have a few fighting forces throughout the country", the socio-anthropologist and research professor at Joseph Ki-Zerbo University details.

Enlistment officially ended on November 18 and more than 30,000 people registered aged 18 to 77 according to government data.

The volunteers receive 14 days of civic and military training before being armed and provided with means of communication.

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