AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - First mass kidnappings of women in the north of the country and anti-French demonstrations in the capital

Saturday, 21 January 2023

Ouagadougou (Agenzia Fides) - The news of the release of 27 of the approximately 50 women kidnapped between January 12 and 13, 2023 together with their children in the northern province of Soum dates back to a few days ago. The country's state TV showed images of the women freed from their jailers, together with 39 children, and transferred to the capital Ouagadougou.
The phenomenon of mass abductions of women in Burkina had never occurred by a group of armed men.
The victims were looking for food and wild fruits outside the village of Liki, about 15 km from the city of Aribinda, and in another location in the same district. The department of Arbinda has been under a terrorist blockade for several weeks, with repeated clashes between the executive forces of Burkina Faso and these armed groups. The area in which the city is located, in particular, is one of the most affected by Islamic terrorism, one of the country's main problems, which in recent years has caused the death of thousands of civilians and forced about two million people (out of 22 million inhabitants) to abandon their homes. According to local sources, the missing women had started scouring the surrounding bush because there was no longer enough food for their families in the village. Kidnappings of this magnitude so far have mostly involved Westerners and locals, but never women.
The food situation has particularly worsened in recent months due to the blockade of a large part of the north by the insurgents who make the delivery of supplies to the inhabitants increasingly dangerous. In September 2022, dozens of soldiers were killed following an attack on a 150-vehicle convoy carrying supplies into the northern city of Djibo, the capital of Soum.
The country is also experiencing weeks of high tension due to anti-French demonstrations in the capital. The two military coups, one in January and the other between the end of September and the beginning of October 2022 (see Fides, 30/9/2022), have severely tested relations between Ouagadougou and Paris.
Burkina Faso, currently led by the transitional president, Captain Ibrahim Traorè (see Fides, 3/10/2022) is unable to contain the jihadist violence in the north of the country. According to local media, hundreds of people are demonstrating against the presence in the Central African country of the former colonial power, which has a military base in Kamboinsin, on the outskirts of the capital. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 21/1/2023)