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UN chief condemns abduction of 50 women in Burkina Faso

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UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Tuesday, strongly condemned the abduction of some 50 women and girls in the surroundings of Arbinda, in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, reportedly by unidentified Armed Groups.

According to the government, Islamist militants kidnapped around 50 women searching for food in Burkina Faso’s northern province of Soum, a hotbed of jihadist activity.

The women were kidnapped in separate incidents on Thursday and Friday as they foraged for food, in the latest attack on civilians by suspected Al-Qaeda and Islamic State-linked extremists.

Guterres, in a statement by his Deputy Spokesman, Farhan Haq, called for the immediate and unconditional release of the abducted women and girls and for their safe return to their families.

Haq said the secretary-general urged the Burkinabé authorities to spare no efforts in bringing those responsible for this crime to justice.

“The secretary-general reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to continue working with Burkina Faso and international partners to enhance the protection of civilians.

“He also reaffirms the UN commitment to working with the country in responding to the humanitarian and development challenges as well as promoting and protecting human rights, and supporting efforts towards lasting peace,’’ he said.

Furthermore, Faq, at a news conference in New York, said Burkina Faso continued to confront a multi-dimensional crisis, noting that insecurity is growing and nearly one-fifth of the population needs urgent humanitarian aid.

“The number of security incidents increased by 220 per cent in 2022 over the previous year. Conflict intensity remains higher than any other Sahelian country. As of the end of December last year, 1.3 million people are in hard-to-reach areas.

“1.7 million people are displaced, or one in 12 Burkinabé. The country was one of the fastest-growing displacement crises in the world in 2022.

“The conflict and chronic vulnerability to droughts and floods have left 2.6 million people severely food insecure, a figure that is expected to increase to 3.5 million during the 2023 lean season,’’ he said.

According to him, between April and June 2022, at least 400 incidents involving violations of human rights, International Humanitarian Law and refugee law have been reported.

“At least 649 people have been killed and 39 per cent of those were children.

“Burkina Faso’s 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan was only funded at 38 per cent (US$309 million funded out of US$805 million needed).

“The 2023 Humanitarian Response Plans requires US$866 million to respond to the needs of three million people.”

NAN

 

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