The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is concerned about the situation facing over 920,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Burkina Faso, where displacement figures continue to grow as violence escalates - particularly in the Sahel Region where nearly one third of IDPs currently live.
"Every day new groups of displaced persons arrive. Hundreds of people arrived yesterday, including widows, children and people with disabilities. The needs are growing," said Abdoulaye, the representative of the internally displaced persons of Windou, a district of the city of Dori, the capital of the Sahel Region.
Abdoulaye is one of the many people who have found refuge in Windou, one of the areas most affected by armed attacks in Burkina Faso.
"The Sahel Region hosts 310,066 IDPs living in 16 of the 26 municipalities in the region. About 25 per cent of these IDPs are hosted by families," said the Regional Director of the Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, Family and Humanitarian Action of the Sahel. According to the Ministry, the priority needs are shelter, food, and health services.
"In this pandemic context, the needs are enormous in a country that is already going through a difficult humanitarian situation," he said.
"That's why we ask our partners to continue not only supporting IOM's response plan against COVID-19, but also to work to stabilize the regions that are plagued by the humanitarian crisis," said Abibatou Wane, IOM Chief of Mission in Burkina Faso.
In a bid to protect and assist the most vulnerable, IOM launched a humanitarian response strategy targeting displaced and host communities in the five most affected regions of the country (Boucle du Mouhoun, Sahel, Centre-North, North and East). Through this strategy, the Organization provides displaced persons with emergency shelter assistance and essential household items and sets up and coordinates temporary reception sites and spaces. Over 3,000 IDPs were provided with IOM shelter assistance between December 2019 and March 2020.
More than 5,000 IDPs and members of host communities received IOM's psychosocial assistance at the sites of Djibo in the crisis-hit Sahel Region and Barsalogho in the North-Central Region.
"The psychosocial support we provide helps relieve the suffering and mental distress and gives voice to those who need to freely express their stories. The needs continue as more people are being displaced by violence every day," explains Abdoul Aziz, an IOM psychologist in Djibo municipality.
As part of the response against COVID-19, IOM has supported the region with protection kits and has been carrying out awareness-raising activities for both communities and IDPs. With the support of health workers, the Organization has raised awareness among more than 3,282 IDPs and members of host communities in the Sahel Region on measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
These activities are implemented with the financial support of the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).