In recent months, the security and humanitarian situation has rapidly deteriorated in the North, Centre-North, Sahel, Boucle du Mouhoun and Eastern Burkina Faso. This deterioration has led to a substantial increase in internal displacement and worsened the already very limited access to basic social services in a context of extreme poverty in these localities. While insecurity has been gradually increasing since 2015, the year 2019 has been particularly violent, causing an unprecedented increase in humanitarian needs.
The Government of Burkina Faso has a National Multi-Risk Contingency Plan for Disaster Preparedness and Response, a reference framework that allows for better coordination of the responses of the various sectors in emergency situations. However, owing to the low level of attention paid to child protection in emergencies, it had become necessary, from September 2018, to set up a sub-working group for child protection in emergencies within the Working Group.
This group, which became an area of responsibility following the activation of the Protection Cluster in December 2019, aims to ensure better supervision of the coordination framework for operational responses by humanitarian actors in Burkina Faso to meet the challenges identified in the sector.
2020 Response plan in numbers
The humanitarian situation in Burkina Faso deteriorated sharply during 2019 and early 2020. As of January 2020, nearly 765,000 people had been forced to flee due to violence, including 449,119 children. The exacerbation of violence against civilians, mainly in the provinces of Soum, Sanmatenga, Seno and Sourou, has contributed to new displacements in these localities. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance rose to 2.2 million in January 2020, with 948,000 people in need of protection, 59% of whom are children. By closing 2,506 schools, the current crisis is depriving 342,219 students of institutional protection, including 10,908 teachers. The closure of schools increases the risk of children suffering serious violations of their rights.
Increasing threats from armed groups have seriously affected the realization of children's rights and expose them to new protection risks such as family separation, psychosocial distress affecting more than 85 per cent of displaced children, abuse, exploitation and violence, including recruitment by armed groups and sexual violence. 2% of children reported having experienced an episode of physical violence and 6% of cases of sexual violence in the trajectory of displacement. In addition, although it is difficult to obtain accurate data on groups that recruit and use children, at least 1% of registered IDPs cited the risk of recruitment of children by armed groups as one of the reasons for their displacement. More specifically, boys aged 13-17 years constitute the second most vulnerable group to unidentified armed groups and children aged 5-12 years the fifth most vulnerable group. Birth registration also remains a major challenge, especially in the context of displacement. CONASUR reports that at least 88 per cent of internally displaced children were without birth certificates as of February 2020. The current crisis is exacerbating other child protection issues that are already critical in both sending and receiving areas, which before the crisis had the lowest school enrolment rates, and cultural practices that are contrary to protection principles, such as child marriage and child exploitation.
With more than 95% of the internally displaced population (IDPs) currently living in host communities, depending on most of the already limited humanitarian assistance available, the situation puts additional pressure on the current fragile situation and community and family social protection and support systems. Despite this, relevant ministries and in partnership with humanitarian child protection actors are currently focused on implementing effective responses to prevent and respond to emergency child protection concerns and to provide children and their families with comprehensive care.
The strategy identifies and focuses on key evidence-based child protection priorities and adopts an integrated approach to programming aimed at strengthening the resilience of affected children through the provision of prevention and response services. The AoR will strengthen existing national child protection systems, including :
With prevention and service delivery at the core of the programme, members of the AoR will foster local partnerships and increase leverage on other sectors through an integrated, multisectoral programming approach to deliver services for children. In addition, evidence-based strategic advocacy with relevant government institutions to improve child protection as well as with donors for adequate financial resources, strengthening the technical and institutional capacities of partners for the scale-up of quality and accountable prevention and response to the affected population. Finally, the strategy encourages the respect of the Minimum Standards for the Protection of Children in Humanitarian Action.