US actress Angelina Jolie, special envoy of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), visited a refugee camp in Burkina Faso on Sunday that houses thousands of Malians who have fled jihadist violence, an AFP journalist witnessed.
Angelina Jolie arrived in the Goudebou refugee camp aboard a helicopter accompanied by Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Alpha Barry to mark World Refugee Day on 20 June.
“I celebrate this day every year for 40 years with refugees in different countries, and I have never been more concerned about the state of displacement in the world as today,” said the actress after visiting this camp located a hundred kilometers from the border with Mali.
“The truth is that we are not doing half of what we could and should do to find solutions that allow refugees to return home or to support host countries,” he added. And he called for support for states hosting refugees like Burkina Faso.
This camp, located near Dori, was the target of multiple attacks.
In March 2020, a new attack on the camp’s security post, which then housed up to 99 thousand refugees, caused the flight of those who had stayed from previous times, leading to the de facto closure of Goudebou.
Since December, the Authorities of Burkina Faso and UNHCR have taken the refugees back to this camp, after having reinforced the security system with soldiers and patrols. The construction of a barracks is planned.
Between December and June, nearly 11 thousand people from cities in northern Burkina Faso returned to Goudebou, according to UNHCR.
“The refugees are mortified because the security context is deteriorating day by day despite the efforts of the Burkina Faso authorities, their partners and the defence and security forces in the Sahel region,” said goudebou refugee representative Wanadine ag Mohamed.
He recalled the tragedy in Solhan (northeastern Burkina Faso), during which 132 people – according to the authorities – and 160 – according to local sources – were killed in an attack by suspected jihadists on the evening of 4 June.
Since 2012, some 22 thousand refugees of various nationalities have taken refuge in Burkina Faso, including many Malians fleeing violence by jihadist groups in the north and center of their country.
But Burkina has been the target of jihadist attacks since 2015, which have killed more than 1,400 people and forced a million people to flee their homes.