UNHCR condemns violence against Malian refugees in Burkina Faso


The United Nations refugee agency is calling for an investigation into a violent attack against Malian refugees on May 02 by Burkina Faso security forces, which left 32 people injured, many seriously.

Security forces reportedly burst into the Mentao refugee camp a day after Burkina Faso soldiers came under attack earlier in the day by one of the many armed groups operating in the region. One soldier reportedly was killed, and another has gone missing.

Security forces undertook house-to-house searches in the camp and allegedly forced refugee men and boys out of their homes, beating them with sticks, belts and ropes.

Refugees were accused of complicity with the unidentified gunmen and given an ultimatum to leave the camp within the next 72 hours or face death.

“The actions of the security forces as reported to us are totally unacceptable,” said Millicent Mutuli, UNHCR’s Director for the Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa. “Refugees living in Mentao camp should be protected,” she added.

UNHCR has called for an urgent investigation into the incident in a letter addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, while expressing grave concern for the safety of refugees.

All injured refugees are currently receiving treatment in the Djibo health centre, among them four with fractured limbs.

UNHCR reiterates its call on the Government of Burkina Faso to allow moving refugees from the camp to a safer location and has offered support to the authorities.

Violence had forced UNHCR to relocate its staff out of the camp in November 2019. Since then, access is sporadic to refugees, mostly women and children, living in dire conditions with schools, health centre and security post been forced to close. (Source: UNHCR)