Most Malian refugees have been displaced from their country since 2012 | Photo: HCR / Sylvain Cherkaoui
Most Malian refugees have been displaced from their country since 2012 | Photo: HCR / Sylvain Cherkaoui

The UNHCR has helped 3,000 Malian refugees move back into Burkina Faso's Goudoubo refugee camp. The same refugees had been forced to abandon the site nine months earlier following a series of violent attacks.

In December, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR has relocated 3,000 Malian refugees back to the Goudoubo camp in Burkina Faso's country's north-east. The operation involved 31 convoys of various buses and trucks. Another 150 refugees relocated to the camp on their own using motorcycles or tricycle taxis. Some even moved on foot.

Goudoubo hosted 9,000 refugees until March this year when a series of violent attacks and threats by armed extremists forced the camp to be emptied. Some 5,000 Malian refugees returned to their home country which continues to face a great deal of political upheaval. 

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New infrastructures for a new beginning

National authorities have reinforced security in and around the Goudoubo camp, introducing additional personnel and increased patrols. The UNHCR and the National Commission for Refugees, CONAREF, have built 1,500 new shelters for the returning refugees, have restocked the health clinic and have prepared the schools there to reopen. All this has allowed the Malian refugees to return to the camp.

"The Malian refugees returning to Goudoubo had been asking us to move them back to the camp where most had lived since 2012. We thank the authorities for making their return to Goudoubo possible by adding security measures and their commitment to keep the camp safe," said UNHCR representative in Burkina Faso, Ioli Kimyaci. 

"Goudoubo will offer better access to services and will make life away from home a little easier, while we look for alternatives and lasting solutions."

Malian refugees returned to Goudoubo camp in Burkina Faso which they had left earlier in the year for security reasons | Photo: UNHCR/Moumouni Kone
Malian refugees returned to Goudoubo camp in Burkina Faso which they had left earlier in the year for security reasons | Photo: UNHCR/Moumouni Kone


Returning refugees have meanwhile begun reopening small businesses in Goudoubo, including grocery shops and butchers. Refugees have told UNHCR that the return to the camp meant an end to the struggle to find shelter and access basic services.

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Internal displacement rife in Sahel region

The UNHCR relocations will continue throughout December 2020, with a further 2,100 refugees expected to move back to Goudoubo.

Burkina Faso is at the epicenter of one of the world's fastest-growing displacement and protection crises. One out of every 20 people – amounting to more than one million people in total – is now internally displaced in Africa's instable Sahel region. Burkina Faso also hosts 20,000 Malian refugees, the majority of whom fled violence in their country in 2012.

with UNHCR, UN news 

 

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