West Africa: The double burden of the humanitarian and health crisis in Burkina Faso

« Nous avons déjà des problèmes avec les attaques et cette maladie vient s’ajouter » (Jeanne S., déplacée interne)

Jeanne S. benefits from the help of Plan International Burkina Faso through her sponsored son. Internally displaced person from the Centre-North region, she is worried about the COVID19 pandemic: "I heard about a disease that kills. All we know is that we have to wash our hands with soap to protect ourself. This worries me because we already have problems with attacks and this is now adding to them". Jeanne S. is one of some 387,000 internally displaced people in Centre-North, the region most affected by displacement in Burkina Faso. The town of Kongoussi alone, where Jeanne and her children have settled, has a total of nearly 21,000 displaced people, including about 12,500 children.

Since mid-March, the Burkinabe localities affected by the pandemic have been quarantined and access to the sites of the displaced has become more difficult for humanitarian actors. Jeanne S. talks about the measures taken by the government to limit the spread: "I have noticed that schools have been closed, and we can no longer come and go as we used to. I know that there is also a curfew. Because it is to protect us from the disease, we accept it and we pray for God to help us".

Jeanne S. is 57 years old, widowed and mother of 8 children, one of whom is sponsored and schooled by Plan International Burkina. She had to flee with her children from Bilga to Kongoussi because of attacks by armed groups. "We are hosted by my maternal uncle. Thanks to Plan International, we received food, mats and money", she says. More than 2,000 children from the Centre-North sponsored by Plan International Burkina Faso had to flee their villages because of insecurity, like Jeanne's son. In this exceptional period of crisis, these children receive assistance in cash and basic necessities.

The COVID19 pandemic is spreading as the number of internally displaced people in Burkina Faso reaches an unprecedented level. According to the National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation, as of March 25, the country had 838,548 internally displaced persons. To date, no cases of COVID19 have been reported among the IDPs. Plan International Burkina Faso has set up prevention mechanisms to continue assisting vulnerable people, such as Jeanne and her children, during distribution operations.

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