News

Crises Converge on Burkina Faso

Nick Loomis

So far, more than 20,000 refugees have fled Mali into Burkina Faso, and some observers say Mali's crisis is further destabilizing its neighbor. With considerable political, social and economic problems of its own, the added stress on Burkina Faso could disturb an uneasy peace in the country.

Burkina Faso's border with Mali stretches from the Tuareg rebel-controlled deserts of the north to the populated south, now governed by a military junta that seized power in late March.  

According to the Red Cross, most Malian refugees find themselves in northern Burkina Faso after fleeing the well-armed and advancing Tuareg rebels. But government spokesman Alain Traoré says Burkina Faso is experiencing fallout all along the border with its northwestern neighbor.

Traoré says that when the conflict zone that was in the north moved toward the capital for other reasons, the impact is the same and they are very worried.

The influx of refugees will likely place further strains on one of the world's poorest economies, but the political situation in Burkina Faso is just as tenuous and could worsen as a result of regional instability.

President Blaise Compaoré, who himself came to power by way of a coup in 1987, is the latest African head of state looking to prolong his tenure in the face of term limits. Like many of his regional counterparts, he is responding with constitutional reforms that will allow him, in his case, to run for a fifth term in 2015.

Edouard Ouédraogo is president of the Burkina Faso chapter of the Research Group on the Democratic, Economic and Social Development of Africa. Ouédraogo says that the laws of the land are often put aside, which, he says, is unfortunate but seems to have become the sport of most countries.

He adds that this fragility is because these countries are only apprentices of democracy and they don't always have the political personnel they need to mend things.

Ouédraogo hopes that the president will not seek re-election in 2015, and he is not alone.  Last year, discontent over perceived corruption and the rising cost of living erupted in general protests against the government and a military mutiny.

Much of the military has since been appeased with increased allowances, but Aminata Ramdé has not seen any changes in the capital of Ouagadougou. Ramdé says that, simply, life is very expensive. She says that her family tries to make ends meet, but they just don't.

Prices of staple goods have continued to rise since the food security crisis of 2008 - a reflection and a cause of the growing food crisis in West Africa's Sahel region. The United Nations estimates that in Burkina Faso, some three million people, or 17 percent of the population, are at risk of malnutrition.  

Although Burkina Faso imports most of its food, James Francis, an analyst with the Eurasia Group, says that the government can control prices to some extent and failure to do so could re-ignite tensions.

"There will certainly be protests in urban centers," he said. "However, I don't see food prices, at least in the short or medium term, really causing any sort of political unrest in the country."

But with the added stresses of Malian refugees, the cost of living could become difficult to contain. Francis said that in 2015, the government will have to answer to the electorate and an international community that is increasingly intolerant of leaders overstaying their welcome.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs