Malian refugees at 100k in Burkina Faso
The resources of aid agencies are at bursting point as the number of Malians refugees arriving in neighboring Burkina Faso has now crossed the 100,000 mark.
In the last 10 days, hundreds have been pouring over the border daily, fleeing the internal armed conflict, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. More than half of refugees in Burkina are children and more than one in ten are under five years old.
Country Director for Plan Burkina, Mark Wentling, says that the UNHCR had been planning for the arrival of 100,000 this year and that number has now been exceeded. As of 25 July 107, 929 Malian refugees have been registered in the provinces of Soum, Oudalan, Kadiogo, and Houet which are suffering from a shortage of food and forage. In addition, an estimated 150,000 livestock have been brought over by the Malians adding further strain to limited resources.
“Refugees have fled into Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania but Burkina has the largest number which is now more than double the amount in Niger and this number continues to grow,” says Wentling, adding that “Burkina is already facing a food crisis which is the result of drought, poor harvests, reduced incomes and high food prices. This is already an emergency.”
The arrival of refugees is the new challenge which aid agencies are now facing.
“What I am very worried about is there may be just another month’s worth of emergency food for the refugees.”
Children face enormous challenges in refugee situations and need special care and attention.
Plan is working closely with UNICEF in the areas of education and child protection and with the World Food Program to provide school lunches in the camps where it leads education activities. More than 8,000 refugee children will benefit from Plan’s education and child protection activities, and nearly 17,000 refugees will benefit from water and sanitation activities, and the distribution of non-food items.
Plan has opened refugee assistance offices in Djibo and in Dori from where UNHCR coordinates much of the refugee assistance work.
UNHCR has requested Plan, a global children rights organization with 36 years experience in West Africa, to work in the refugee camps in Damba, Mentao, Gandafabou, and the new camp of Goudebo.
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