More than a million people are fleeing terror and violence in Burkina Faso, and their numbers are growing. At the end of August, more than 1.4 million people were displaced in Burkina Faso, according to government figures. The problem is no longer confined to one region, said Abdouraouf Gnon-Konde, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) country director.
Various terrorist groups operate in Burkina Faso, including the al-Qaeda linked group Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), which originated in Mali, and the so-called Islamic State of the Greater Sahara (EIGS), which is active in the border region with Niger in the east. Outlaws take advantage of the bad security situation and also carry out attacks. The situation is increasingly driving people away from their homes.
The refugee crisis has aggravated poverty in a country that has always ranked low on the United Nations Development Index — currently, it stands at 182 out of 189 countries. There are hardly any permanent jobs and many people are small farmers.
"We simply exist, there is nothing to do and if we aren't given food, we have nothing to eat."
State schools are already overcrowded — and that situation does not take internally displaced persons (IDPs) into account. This school year, 2,244 educational institutions remained closed because of terrorist attacks. Nearly 54% of IDPs are younger than 14, says the UN's Abdouraouf Gnon-Konde.
"They are waiting to go back to school. School is the key to creating a future for these children," he said. Aid organizations have launched a number of projects to make up for missed lessons, but it's not enough.
The UNHCR doesn't have the funds to take care of all the refugees, said Gnon-Konde, adding that only a fourth of the roughly $602 million needed for 2021 is currently funded.