The Overlooked Crisis in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso, embroiled in conflict since 2019, faces the most severe and neglected refugee crisis in Africa, according to a recent Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) report. For the second year running, the West African nation tops the list of neglected crises.
In 2023, Burkina Faso experienced a record 707,000 new internal displacements, with the humanitarian situation worsening. Over 8,400 people were killed in the escalating violence, doubling last year’s toll. The number of Burkinabe refugees seeking safety in neighboring countries nearly tripled, reaching 148,317, according to UNHCR.
An unprecedented 42,000 people faced catastrophic food insecurity, and up to two million civilians were trapped in 36 blockaded towns. Armed groups’ movement bans severely restricted humanitarian aid, leaving at least half a million people in a near-total “aid blind spot.”
By spring 2023, over 6,100 schools were closed, nearly half of all closed schools in Central and West Africa. Around 400 health facilities were either shut down or providing minimal services, leaving 3.6 million people without healthcare—a 70 percent increase from 2022.
On February 8, 2023, two staff members of Doctors Without Borders were murdered by an armed group, marking the first deaths of national aid workers from an international NGO in the conflict.
With road access plagued by security issues, aid organizations relied more on costly air transport, further limiting aid delivery. Funding shortfalls persisted, with only 39 percent of the response plan funded in 2023, down from 43 percent in 2022.
As media coverage dwindled due to bans on international journalists and domestic reporters avoiding sensitive topics, the crisis remained underreported. In 2024, 6.3 million people will need humanitarian assistance, with over two million internally displaced. Ensuring safe, voluntary, and dignified returns per the Kampala Convention is a major humanitarian concern for 2024.

About Geraldine Boechat 2735 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia