Geneva — The U.N. refugee agency says survivors of the Saturday massacre in a Burkina Faso village are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
Unidentified gunmen attacked the village of Solhan in Burkina Faso's northeast Sahel region on June 5. They reportedly stormed the village in the middle of the night, executing at least 138 civilians, seriously injuring nearly 40 other people and setting houses and a market ablaze.
The U.N. refugee agency says more than 3,300 people have fled for their lives to nearby villages. UNHCR spokesman Babar Balloch says the newly displaced, mostly children and women, have been arriving in desperate straits. He says they have few or no belongings and need everything.
"The new arrivals urgently need water and sanitation, shelter, essential aid items and medical care. Authorities have delivered almost 400 tons of food and thousands of relief items, while UNHCR partners are providing medical care and psychosocial support," he said.
The attack, the deadliest since 2015, highlights the increasing insecurity and violence that has been gaining a foothold in Africa's Sahel region over the past few years. The UNHCR calls Burkina Faso the fastest growing displacement and protection crisis in the world.
Since 2019, the agency says, violence in the country has forced more than 1.2 million people to flee their homes. Balloch says so far this year, violence has displaced some 150,000.
"84%, either women, who face a high risk of gender-based violence, or children, half of whom have reportedly been subjected to physical violence and abuse. In addition to the IDPs, Burkina Faso continues to generously host more than 22,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly from Mali," he said.
The UNHCR is appealing for more generous support from the international community. It says the available funds cannot keep pace with the growing humanitarian needs in the hugely insecure Sahelian region.
It notes only a quarter of the nearly $260 million required to assist Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger this year has been received.