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Burkina Faso Named World’s Most Neglected Displacement Crisis for Second Year by NRC

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[5:54 PM, 6/6/2024] Global Afrika Network: Burkina Faso named most neglected crisis for second year in a row
Global Afrika Network: Burkina Faso has been named the world’s most neglected displacement crisis by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) for the second year.

In its annual report, released Monday, the NRC said the West African country saw a record-high 707,000 new displaced

For the second consecutive year, Burkina Faso has been designated the world’s most neglected displacement crisis by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). According to the NRC’s annual report released on Monday, the West African nation experienced a record 707,000 new displacements in 2023, driven by escalating violence and a worsening humanitarian situation.

Nine of the ten most neglected crises highlighted in the report were in Africa, with Cameroon, Central African Republic, Mali, and Niger occupying the second to fifth positions, respectively.

In a press release, the NRC stated that its criteria for identifying neglected displacement crises include a lack of humanitarian funding, media attention, and international political and diplomatic initiatives relative to the number of people in need.

The report also noted a record-breaking shortfall in aid budgets in 2023, amounting to approximately $32 billion, which left more than half of global humanitarian needs unmet.

Neglect Now ‘the New Normal’

The NRC report underscored the minimal media coverage and international political engagement with Burkina Faso’s crisis in 2023, noting that only 37% of requested humanitarian funding had been received, resulting in a significant aid gap.

“The utter neglect of displaced people has become the new normal,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the NRC. “Local political and military elites disregard the suffering they cause, and the world is neither shocked nor compelled to act by stories of desperation and record-breaking statistics. We need a global reboot of solidarity and a refocus on where needs are greatest.”

Media and Access Challenges

Media coverage in Burkina Faso declined as access became increasingly difficult for journalists and humanitarian organizations. The country, currently under military rule following a coup in July 2022, has seen its junta, led by acting president Captain Ibrahim Traore, prioritize security in response to numerous deadly attacks.

In April, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report alleged that more than 200 civilians were killed by Burkina Faso’s military, accused of collaborating with armed groups. These actions could amount to war crimes, HRW suggested. The government firmly rejected these accusations.

In response to these allegations, Burkina Faso’s media regulatory body, the Superior Council for Communication, temporarily suspended broadcasting and website access for several Western news organizations, including TV5 Monde, Le Monde, the Guardian, BBC Africa, and VOA.

Other Neglected Crises

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remained one of the most neglected crises for the eighth year in a row, with around 6.9 million people displaced by the end of 2023, primarily in the eastern provinces. The lack of aid has forced people to resort to negative coping mechanisms, such as exchanging sexual favors for food and money, according to the NRC report.

Sudan was ranked tenth on the list. Despite the war that began in April 2023 resulting in tens of thousands of deaths, over eight million internally displaced people, and nearly 25 million people in need of aid, the NRC described the crisis as “grossly neglected.”

Recurrent Attacks and Humanitarian Challenges

Violence-related deaths in Burkina Faso doubled in 2023, with frequent attacks often attributed to terrorists. In February 2023, the murder of two Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) aid workers led the organization to suspend its activities in the region. By year’s end, up to two million people were trapped in 36 blockaded towns, with over 40,000 facing catastrophic food insecurity.

A displaced mother in northern Burkina Faso, Asseta, shared her struggle with NRC researchers: “When we have nothing to cook, I pick leaves and boil them in water,” she said, as quoted in the organization’s release.

Egeland emphasized the growing difficulty in reaching those in need due to dangerous roads and prohibitively expensive minimal air services. “Donors and humanitarians must prioritize areas that are out-of-sight to ensure they do not become out-of-mind,” he urged.

The NRC predicts that around 6.3 million people in Burkina Faso will require humanitarian assistance in 2024, with over two million remaining internally displaced. Hundreds of civilians have already been killed in attacks this year, including about 170 in three villages in March and approximately 30 in separate mosque and church attacks in February.

The NRC’s report highlighted that many neglected crises are interconnected, with ripple effects extending beyond borders, impacting neighboring countries, and causing broader regional consequences. Competition over resources between refugees and local communities, exacerbated by a lack of funds, can also lead to tensions

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