Fri, 30 Jul 2021

Jihadist violence in Burkina Faso has forced nearly 300 000 people to flee their homes and stopped half a million getting access to health care, the UN and the Red Cross said on Monday.

A former French colony that ranks among the world's poorest countries, Burkina Faso has been struggling with an Islamist militant revolt since 2015.

It spilled over from neighbouring Mali, beginning in the north of the country before spreading to the east. Since 2015, more than 500 people have died in attacks that have become increasingly violent, according to a toll compiled by AFP.

"Nearly 289 000 displaced people are living in shelters," the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement, adding that the number of displaced had more than tripled this year from 82 000 in January.

The International Committee of the Red Cross in a separate statement warned that "500 000 people have been deprived of health care since January due to jihadist violence".

The violence had hit 125 health centres in August, shutting down 60 of them and forcing the other 65 to function only partially.

"Many health workers have been forced to leave rural zones hit by violence," it said.

"Famine and malnutrition constitute a major worry with 1.2 million people facing food insecurity," ICRC said.

It has provided food aid to 22 000 displaced people and medical assistance to 21 000 people in the first half of this year, it added.

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