The U.N. refugee agency says thousands of survivors of a recent massacre in Burkina Faso are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
The deadly attack by armed men on June 12 in the town of Seytenga sent nearly 16,000 people, mostly women and children, fleeing for their lives.
The U.N. refugee agency reports they have arrived in Dori, a town in eastern Burkina Faso on the border with Niger and Mali. It adds more survivors of this attack are expected to arrive in the coming days.
UNHCR spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh says the brutal attack by unknown assailants killed at least 79 people. He notes it is the deadliest single incident since more than 130 people were killed in a massacre in a nearby town a year ago. He says it marks a further escalation of violence against civilians in Burkina Faso.
“The new arrivals in Dori gave accounts of armed men going door-to-door to seek out and kill adult males, meaning that many witnessed the deaths of their husbands or fathers,” Saltmarsh said. “Almost two-thirds of those who fled Seytenga are under the age of 18. Many have been sheltered by the host community and by displaced families already residing in Dori.”
However, he notes hundreds of others are sleeping rough by the roadside. Finding shelter to accommodate the new arrivals is difficult as Dori is teeming with people made homeless by escalating violence against civilians.
Saltmarsh says Dori currently is home to nearly 76,000 displaced Burkinabe, as well as some 20,000 refugees from Mali. He says regional authorities and humanitarian organizations have begun relocating those without shelter to three existing sites in Dori and are preparing additional plots for future arrivals.
“UNHCR and partners are preparing to bolster supplies of emergency shelters and core relief items, including sleeping mats, soap, cooking utensils, for more than 1,000 families,” Saltmarsh said. “UNHCR is also working to identify new arrivals with protection needs, such as children and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and to get them access to appropriate care.”
The U.N. refugee agency is appealing for international support to meet the acute and growing needs of this bereaved population. It says only 20 percent of the $110 million appeal it has issued for Burkina Faso has been met. This, it says, is too little to run its life saving humanitarian operation.
Burkina Faso’s displacement crisis is one of the world’s fastest growing. Latest government figures put the number of internally displaced persons at 1.9 million.