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UN warns Burkina Faso could become 'another Syria' as violence soars

<b>UN warns Burkina Faso could become 'another Syria' as violence soars </b>Children bear the brunt as extremism and climate crisis drive almost 500,000 people from their homes
The UN food agency has warned of an "escalating humanitarian crisis" in Burkina Faso, driven by growing extremist violence and the long-term impact of climate crisis in the arid central Sahel region. A sharp increase in attacks, the result of the west African country becoming embroiled in the jihadist insurgency that began in the region in early 2015, has forced almost half a million people from their homes. Malnutrition is past emergency levels. One in five displaced children is malnourished, UN staff said. "A dramatic human crisis is unfolding in Burkina Faso that has disrupted the lives of millions," said the World Food Programme's executive director, David Beasley. Around 20 people were killed in an attack on a gold mining site in northern Burkina Faso, security sources said, the latest in a spate of violence blamed on a jihadist insurgency across the region. The attack took place in Soum province not far from where alleged jihadists blew up a bridge linking two northern towns in mid-September. The west African nation has become part of a four-and-a-half year jihadist insurgency in the Sahel region, which covers the region south of the Sahara from the Atlantic coast across to the horn of Africa. More than 585 people have been killed since early 2015, according to an AFP toll, in an insurgency affecting Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso where nearly 40 people were killed in an attack on Wednesday, November 06, 2019. Three key Islamist militant groups have established a front in northern and eastern Burkina Faso: Ansarul Islam, the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). One of the most audacious attacks of recent years — the January 2016 siege on a luxury hotel that killed 30 people in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou — was carried out by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has since merged with two other jihadist groups — Ansar Dine and al-Mourabitoun — to form GSIM. A propaganda video released last month by the Islamic State (IS) group shows the Sahel's appeal to global jihadism when "brothers" in Burkina Faso and Mali were congratulated for pledging their allegiance. Ansarul Islam, meaning Defenders of Islam, is the home-grown group, founded in 2016 by the radical and popular preacher Ibrahim Malam Dicko, who is said to have fought with Islamist militants in Mali when they took over the north of country in 2012, prompting France's intervention. Dicko died in April 2017 and his brother Jafar is now leading the group, which has received logistical support from both AQIM and ISGS, according to Human Rights Watch. Burkina Faso is a small, landlocked country in Africa's Sub-Saharan west . Identified as one of the least developed countries in the world, its predominantly rural-based agrarian population has a low life expectancy rate, and experiences high rates of poverty that are only estimated to be increasing in prevalence (UNDP, 2013; World Bank, 2011). Due to its location in Sub-Saharan Africa's Sahel region and extensive nation-wide environmental degradation, Burkina Faso is placed to be severely challenged by predicted increases in temperature and decreases in rainfall due to climate change. Resulting droughts have impacted numerous sectors of the Burkinabe society and economy. The most far-reaching impacts are being experienced by the country's vulnerable agricultural sector (World Bank, 2011; Ministère de l'Environnment, 2007). Sweden, through the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is supporting drought-stricken farmers and herders in the Sahel, with a focus on Burkina Faso and Mali. The aid is channelled through the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA). Communities across?Burkina Faso are struggling to cope following extreme drought due to global warming. Coupled with high food prices, conflict and disrupted markets, it has led to drastic consequences on the population's health and nutrition. It has also lead to increased conflicts and intensified risks of transboundary epidemics as herders move their animals to new areas and compete for scarce pastures.


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