According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), over 17,500 people in Burkina Faso have been displaced from their homes due to a series of attacks by unidentified armed groups that have killed not less than 45 people.
Since the beginning of the year, several attacks by armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have been rising sharply in the West African Sahel region, particularly in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
A statement by the UNHCR on Friday, said gunmen had carried out a series of attacks in three separate regions, burning down houses and shooting civilians dead. The assailants also ransacked health centres and damaged homes and shops.
“Clearly one of the reasons is to cause mayhem and to torment civilians,” UNHCR spokesman Boris Cheshirkov told a briefing in Geneva.
The security situation in the Sahel region is fueling one of the fastest growing displacement crises in the world, he said.
According to Reuters news agency, on Monday, armed assailants had killed about 30 people in an attack on a village in eastern Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso’s ill-equipped army has struggled to contain the spread of violence.
Last year the government enlisted the help of volunteer militiamen to help the army but they have incurred retaliation by the rebels who attack them and the communities they help.
Armed groups have driven religious and ethnic tensions between farming and herding communities in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to boost recruitment among marginalised communities.
The worsening violence in the wider Sahel region has led to one of the world’s most acute humanitarian crises, UN agencies said last week.
The violence in Burkina Faso has displaced more than 1.14 million people in just over two years, while the poor arid country is also hosting some 20,000 refugees from neighbouring Mali who are seeking safety from