July 26, 2023
Misconceptions and myths regarding refugees
The food and nutrition crisis in Burkina Faso is currently in the emergency phase, which is the phase before famine. It is imperative that this crisis does not continue to escalate. An additional challenge to this unfolding humanitarian crisis is that aid cannot reach the entire population due to the insecurity in the country.
The humanitarian crisis in Burkina Faso is deteriorating at an accelerated pace. Almost 5 million people are affected by the current humanitarian and food crisis without aid being able to reach the entire population due to the insecurity situation in the country. Given the insufficient response from the international community, Doctors of the World is using its platform to call for help in hopes to avoid a devastating famine.
“25% of the population is affected by this food crisis. 800,000 people live in areas blocked by insecurity, making it very difficult for humanitarian aid to reach them. We are facing a food and nutrition crisis in an emergency phase, which is the phase before famine, and we have to avoid it”, explains Erell Chardon, coordinator of Doctors of the World in Burkina Faso.
The number of people who cannot secure their food has reached 3.5 million. Of these, 1.3 million need help meeting their nutritional needs. Many of them are in a very critical situation, on the verge of famine. At this time of the year, food shortages are appearing, since last year’s reserves have run out and this year’s are not yet available until they are cultivated with the arrival of the rains.
The ongoing conflict has had a huge effect on the food crisis. For the past couple of years, harvesting crops in the areas most affected by the crisis has been very difficult: access to the fields is complex because the armed groups prevent it or also due to the displacement of the population, as well as the difficult access to the necessary materials for cultivation. There is also a shortage of livestock due to robberies by armed groups or because the displaced population has not been able to take the animals with them when fleeing. All this has led to an increase in food prices throughout the country and shortages in cities blocked by insecurity.
Since this crisis escalated four years ago, more than 2 million people have been forced to leave their homes in the country. Many of them have fled up to two and three times in search of a safer place. In this context, being able to access a health center is a huge challenge. Even before the crisis, on average the nearest health center was 10 km away. Now the situation is even worse.
There are currently 336 health centers that are closed and 371 that operate at a minimum, that is, they have reduced hours in the morning. Health personnel are also facing a harsh situation: their physical integrity is threatened, they have abandoned health training and the number of patients without assistance is increasing.
“Due to insecurity, the roads are useless. Not even sick people can be evacuated. There is a risk of improvised explosive devices going off. There are ambulances that have been completely damaged and at the moment there are 37 that have been stolen or completely destroyed by these explosive devices ” explains Jean Marie Ouédraogo, medical coordinator in Burkina Faso.
Medical supplies cannot be moved by road due to roadblocks, explosives, risk of theft and kidnapping. The situation of insecurity and road blockade means that the few medicines that are available have to be transported by plane or helicopter. “All these obstacles mean that, at this moment, the health system in Burkina Faso is deeply disturbed ” warns Ouédraogo.
In humanitarian action, organizations that classify as forgotten crises are those that meet various factors such as lack of media attention and lack of funding, among other issues. Doctors of the World (Spain), which has worked in the country since 2002, points to the lack of funding for this year’s humanitarian response plan. To face the crisis that the country is going through, the plan required 800 million dollars and less than 350 million dollars have been received, that is to say, 42% of the necessary financing to care for the people who need it.
In addition, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) released its annual report this month on the world’s ten most neglected displacement crises: the world’s most neglected is Burkina Faso.
Doctors of the World, which has been working in the country since 2002, contributes to the humanitarian response in the Sahel and Center-North regions of Burkina Faso in terms of nutrition, primary and secondary care, as well as support for the operation of health centers and hospitals, maternal and child health , mental health and psychosocial support, as well as medical and psychological treatment in response to gender-based violence. All this in support of the public health system and in collaboration with community organizations.
To learn more about our program in Burkina Faso take a look at our page on it: