Displacement & MigrationNews

Displacement Crises In Burkina Faso, Cameroon Are World’s Most Neglected

The report published yearly by the Norwegian Refugee Council shows that for the first time, all three countries in the central Sahel — Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger — are among the top five most neglected crises.

For the second year in a row, the displacement crisis in the West African country of Burkina Faso has been adjudged the most neglected worldwide. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an international non-governmental organisation, made this observation in a report released on Monday, June 3.

Following closely are the crises in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and Niger.

Burkina Faso was also the worst-ranked country in 2023, then followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, Sudan, and Venezuela. 

The trend shows that “for the first time all three countries in the central Sahel are among the top five most neglected crises”, said NRC. The central Sahel countries — Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger — have been grappling with widespread insurgencies, and all fell to military rule within the last four years. In addition to this, there is growing poverty, food insecurity, and hunger, especially among internally displaced people.

In Burkina Faso, millions of people are trapped in blockaded towns and aid workers are unable to reach hundreds of thousands of people who need help.

“Roads are too dangerous to use due to frequent attacks,” said NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland. “The minimal air service that exists cannot get anywhere close to meeting the scale of needs, and is also prohibitively expensive. It’s critical that donors and humanitarians continue to prioritise areas that are out-of-sight and ensure they do not become out-of-mind.”

Burkina Faso has consistently appeared on the NRC’s ‘neglected displacement crisis’ list for the past five years. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has also described the situation in the country as “one of the fastest-growing displacement and protection crises globally”.

Egeland stated that it has become normal for governments and the international community to disregard the suffering of displaced people in the affected countries.

“The 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,” he said.

The NRC explains that the list of neglected crises, which is released annually, is based on three criteria: lack of humanitarian funding, media attention, and international political and diplomatic initiatives — “compared to the number of people in need”.

The amount of money donated to humanitarian cases is dropping when compared to the scale of the problems. According to the NRC, last year, there was a shortfall of $32 billion between humanitarian appeals and money received. This was more than triple the shortfall in 2022. “That vast deficit meant 57 per cent of needs remained unmet,” the humanitarian organisation said.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said that in Burkina Faso, less than 40 per cent of the amount requested for humanitarian programmes in 2023 was funded.

Egeland emphasised the need for urgent investments in these humanitarian crises.

“These investments must be made both in the form of diplomatic initiatives to get warring parties to come to the negotiating table, as well as funding commensurate with needs from donor countries. Critically, we need those economies not contributing their fair share of global solidarity to step up,” he noted. 

Burkina Faso has become emblematic of the broader security crisis in the Central Sahel. The country has been ranked as the most terror impacted globally, and terror related deaths have been going higher in the country since the crisis started in 2014, following the uprising after the former president Blaise Compaoré was deposed. 

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