Region of Concern: Burkina Faso
Written By Iris Hautaniemi Forsberg; Edited by Cameron Munoz
Date: April 28, 2023
Map of Burkina Faso
Event: On April 27, suspected armed terrorists killed 33 and injured 12 soldiers in eastern Burkina Faso, the most recent attack of many in the region where jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIS have a firm grip. This attack comes two weeks after Burkina Faso’s military government declared a general mobilization to increase resources to fight the terrorist groups. Jihadists have targeted civilians and soldiers, and several reports also show that soldiers have killed civilians. On April 24, men wearing the official Burkinabe military uniforms killed 60 civilians in northern Burkina Faso. In the last seven years, the conflict in Burkina Faso has led to more than 10.000 deaths and more than two million people displaced.
Significance: The attack will likely lead to from the military on suspected jihadist groups, further increasing violence in the country. Terrorist groups are very likely to hide within civilian residential areas, increasing the risk of civilian casualties. Terrorist groups will likely use potential attacks from the military on civilians for propaganda and recruitment opportunities by inspiring resentment toward the military and government. The armed groups affiliated with ISIS and al-Qaeda will likely try to increase their power over these areas by enforcing stronger roadblocks and kidnapping civilians. Increased control over these areas will very likely lead to shortages of necessary supplies, such as food, water, and medicines. Continued attacks on soldiers and civilians will likely lead to increased fear for the Burkinabe population, resulting in new refugee flows into neighboring countries, such as Mali, Niger, Benin, and Côte d’Ivoire. Because of the large-scale violence in the region, refugees will likely try to continue their journey and seek asylum in Europe, using dangerous travel routes on the Mediterranean Sea or risk being exploited by smugglers.
Recommendations: The government in Burkina Faso should strengthen cooperation with neighboring countries to implement a cohesive counterterrorism strategy against the jihadist groups operating in the region. Potential counter-attacks from the military should ensure the safety of civilians, and prosecutors should thoroughly investigate possible killings of civilians by soldiers. The military should also ensure safe access to the country and affected areas for journalists and human rights organizations. Human rights organizations and journalists operating in the area, such as Amnesty International and the Danish Institute for Human Rights, should monitor and report all potential abuses against civilians. Humanitarian organizations, like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross, should provide necessary supplies, such as food, water, blankets, tents, and medicines, to all refugees that flee from the areas affected by violence. These humanitarian organizations should also cooperate with the governments and militaries in the region to increase the safety around refugee camps and launch information campaigns through pamphlets and radio broadcasting about safe areas for civilians to seek out. The US and other countries engaged in the Global Coalition against Daesh should support Burkina Faso’s military through military training and intelligence sharing about potential jihadist activities.
 Burkina Faso: 33 soldiers killed by militants, says army, Deutsche Welle, April 2023, https://www.dw.com/en/burkina-faso-33-soldiers-killed-by-militants-says-army/a-65457175
 'General mobilisation' declared in Burkina Faso after series of terrorist attacks, France 24, April 2023, https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20230413-general-mobilisation-declared-in-burkina-faso-after-series-of-jihadist-attacks
 Army uniformed men kill 60 civilians in Burkina Faso, Africa News, April 2023, https://www.africanews.com/2023/04/24/army-uniformed-men-kill-60-civilians-in-burkina-faso/