Home > Where We Work > Africa > West Africa > Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso flag

Burkina Faso Burkina Faso RSS Feed

2014 UNHCR country operations profile - Burkina Faso

| Overview |

Working environment

  • The socio-political environment in Burkina Faso remains calm despite sporadic signs of political tension in 2013.

  • Although the security situation remains relatively stable in Burkina Faso, strict security measures are in place in rural areas, particularly in Dori and Djibo, limiting the Office's access to its people of concern.

  • Since 2012, Malian refugees have been granted prima facie refugee status by the Government. Some 60 per cent of them live in three consolidated refugee camps, namely Sag-Nioniogo, Goudoubo and Mentao. Nearly 20 per cent of the refugees reside in host villages in the Sahel region, 13 per cent are hosted in five spontaneous sites, Dibissi, Deou, Gorom-Gorom, Ouyigouya and Tin Hedja, and the remaining stay in Bobo-Dioulasso and Ouagadougou.

  • Malian refugees live in a challenging environment, affected by successive famine and droughts, extreme heat, violent winds and rain.

  • In 2014, UNHCR anticipates a significant reduction in the number of refugees in Burkina Faso as a result of the spontaneous and voluntary return of Malian refugees to their home country.

  • The Government of Burkina Faso provides land and water as well as access to public health clinics and primary and secondary schools for refugees.

People of concern

The main groups of people of concern planned for in 2014 under the Burkina Faso operation are: Malian refugees who have been fleeing violence and attacks from rebel groups in northern Mali since 2012 and a small population of urban refugees from countries such as Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali, Sudan, and Togo. The urban refugees have been in Burkina Faso for over ten years.

Planning figures

UNHCR 2014 planning figures for Burkina Faso
TYPE OF POPULATION ORIGIN Dec 2013 Dec 2014 Dec 2015
Total in country of whom assisted
Total in country of whom assisted
Total in country of whom assisted
Total 44,140 43,240 39,210 38,630 14,850 14,600
Refugees Chad 180 100 180 100 190 100
Mali 43,000 43,000 38,320 38,320 14,370 14,370
Rwanda 10 10 10 10 10 10
Various 290 130 280 120 280 120
Asylum-seekers Chad 80 - 40 - - -
Congo 80 - 40 - - -
Côte d'Ivoire 220 - 120 - - -
Various 280 - 140 - - -
Others of concern Rwanda - - 80 80 - -

| Response |

Needs and strategies

In 2014, protection will remain a priority and all refugees will receive individual identity cards. UNHCR will also ensure that newborns receive birth certificates. The capacity of the national eligibility committee in charge of refugee status determination (RSD) will continue to be strengthened.

In terms of durable solutions, if the conditions in Mali are conducive, voluntary repatriation will be facilitated for refugees who opt to return to their country. For refugees who want to remain in Burkina Faso, livelihood programmes will be reinforced.

The Office will also continue to reinforce sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention and response measures in camps to reduce harmful traditional practices. Adequate support will be provided to SGBV survivors and standard operating procedures and referral mechanisms will be updated regularly in all refugee camps.

UNHCR's framework for child protection will be further extended to focus in particular on primary education for girls and children from minority groups. Tracing and family reunification activities will be undertaken for unaccompanied and separated children, in close collaboration with partners.

As refugees are hosted in regions with scarce natural resources, projects that maintain peaceful coexistence between refugees and the host population will be implemented. Mechanisms preventing intra- and/or inter-communal tensions, especially between farmers and pastoralists, will be reinforced. To address ethnic segregation among refugees, UNHCR will continue to document discriminatory practices, including through education and child protection activities.

| Implementation |


In 2014, UNHCR, in close cooperation with the Government through the Commission nationale pour les réfugiés, will continue to coordinate the assistance for Malian refugees in Burkina Faso. The organization will also continue working with governmental and UN partners such as FAO, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP and WHO as well as NGOs and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

UNHCR's partnership priority will be to ensure that close collaboration with the authorities and local partners contributes to building their capacity through training on international protection and programme management. To facilitate the voluntary repatriation of Malian refugees in 2014, UNHCR will establish regional coordination mechanisms in close coordination with the host government.

2014 UNHCR partners in Burkina Faso
Implementing partners
Government agencies: Commission nationale pour les réfugiés
NGOs: African Initiative for Relief and Development, Burkinabe Red Cross Society, Christian Relief and Development Organization, Croix-Rouge française, Danish Refugee Council, HELP - Germany, Intermón Oxfam, International Emergency and Development Aid, International Relief and Development, Médecins du Monde - France and Spain, Norwegian Refugee Council, Organisation catholique pour le développement et la solidarité, Plan - Burkina Faso, Support Centre for International Health, Terre des Hommes, Vétérinaires Sans Frontières
Operational partners
Government agencies: Conseil national de secours d'urgence et de réhabilitation, Provincial Directorate for Base Education and Literacy of the Soum, Seno, Kadiogo and Houet Province, Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity, National Ministry of Education and Literacy, Regional Direction for Base Education and Literacy of the Sahel Region
NGOs: Belgian Red Cross, Luxembourg Red Cross, Catholic Relief Service, HOPE'87, Médecins Sans Frontières - France, Monaco Red Cross

| Financial information |

At the beginning of the Mali crisis, UNHCR had a limited presence in Burkina Faso. However, after the emergency operation started in 2013, the budget for UNHCR's Burkina Faso operation was increased significantly. With the foreseen return of some 5,000 Malian refugees in 2014, the assessment of comprehensive needs for Burkina Faso has resulted in a reduction of financial requirements from a revised 2013 budget of USD 32.8 million to USD 25.7 million in 2014.

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2014-2105



Statistical Snapshot*
* As at January 2014
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence. In the absence of Government estimates, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in most industrialized countries based on 10 years of asylum-seekers recognition.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation whose status has not yet been verified.
  3. Persons whose application for asylum or refugee status is pending at any stage in the procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013. Source: Country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance. It also includes persons who are in an IDP-like situation.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013.
  7. Refers to persons under UNHCR's statelessness mandate.
  8. Persons of concern to UNHCR not included in the previous columns but to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance.
  9. The category of people in a refugee-like situation is descriptive in nature and includes groups of people who are outside their country of origin and who face protection risks similar to those of refugees, but for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Burkina Faso [1]
Refugees [2] 29,234
Asylum Seekers [3] 791
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 30,025
Originating from Burkina Faso [1]
Refugees [2] 1,688
Asylum Seekers [3] 942
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 2,630

Burkina Faso UNHCR Fundraising Reports Rss FeedUNHCR Fundraising Reports

Burkina Faso UNHCR Maps Rss FeedUNHCR Maps

Barbara Hendricks visits Malian refugees in Burkina Faso

UNHCR Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador Barbara Hendricks met with Malian refugees in Damba Camp on July 6, 2012, in northern Burkina Faso. The acclaimed soprano is using the visit to highlight the plight of tens of thousands of refugees who have fled from conflict in their country this year and are living in camps or settlements in neighbouring countries. As of early July, more than 198,000 Malians had fled to Mauritania (88,825), Burkina Faso (65,009) and Niger (44,987). At least 160,000 were estimated to be displaced within Mali, most in the north.

Barbara Hendricks visits Malian refugees in Burkina Faso

Harsh life for Malian refugees in Burkina Faso

Some 3,900 Malian refugees are living in Damba camp in northern Burkina Faso. They left their homes in Gossi and Gao in northern Mali to escape fighting between rebel Tuareg movement and the Malian army as well as threats posed by criminal gangs and Islamist groups. Several families have recently arrived in the camp, worried that an attack on Gao in June will spill over to other towns. Life is harsh in the camp and UNHCR urgently needs fresh funds to ensure life-saving assistance for this silent humanitarian crisis.

More than 380,000 Malians have been forced to flee their homes this year. Over 65,000 of them have found refuge in Burkina Faso. And this comes at a time when the countries in the Sahel region are suffering from drought and food shortfalls.

Harsh life for Malian refugees in Burkina Faso

UNHCR chief meets Malian refugees in Burkina Faso

On 1 August, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres travelled to northern Burkina Faso with the United States' Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BRPM), Anne Richard. In Damba camp, they met with Malian refugees who had fled northern Mali in the past six months to escape the ongoing conflict and political instability. To date, more than 250,000 Malian refugees have fled their homes and found refuge in neighbouring countries, including 107,000 in Burkina Faso alone. The UN refugee agency has only received one-third of the US$153 million it needs to provide life-saving assistance such as shelter, water, sanitation, health services, nutrition and protection to the refugees. UNHCR fears that the volatile political and humanitarian situation in Mali could lead to further outflows to neighbouring countries.

UNHCR chief meets Malian refugees in Burkina Faso

The Most Important Thing – Malian Refugees in Burkina Faso

"The Most Important Thing" documents - in words and pictures - some of the tough decisions people face when they have to flee their home. With support from UNHCR, American photographer Brian Sokol began the project in South Sudan, taking portraits of Sudanese refugees carrying the most valuable possession they brought with them into exile. He also asked them to explain their decision. Sokol continued with Syrian refugees in Iraq and in this photo essay looks at Malians in refugee camps in neighbouring Burkina Faso. While the photographs may reveal a fair amount about the subjects, it is their words - their stories - that share far more.

For the Sudanese, the most important things were primarily objects to keep them alive during their long, difficult journey: a pot, an axe, a water jug or a basket. For Syrians, the objects were largely sentimental: an old ring, a torn photograph, the key to a door that may no longer exist. Among the Malians depicted in this photo gallery, the objects largely had to do with their cultural identity. They spoke of how the items helped them to still feel part of their people, despite being forced into exile.

The Most Important Thing – Malian Refugees in Burkina Faso

Relocation from the Border Country of Burkina Faso

The process of relocating refugees from one site to a safer one is full of challenges. In Burkina Faso, the UN refugee agency has been working with partner organizations and the government to move thousands of Malian refugee families away from border sites like Damba to a safer camp some 100 kilometres to the south. Working under hot and harsh conditions, the aid workers had to dismantle shelters and help people load their belongings onto trucks for the journey. The new site at Mentao is also much easier to access with emergency assistance, including shelter, food, health care and education. These images, taken by photographer Brian Sokol, follow the journey made by Agade Ag Mohammed, a 71-year-old nomad, and his family from Damba to Mentao in March. They fled their home in Gao province last year to escape the violence in Mali, including a massacre that left two of his sons, a brother and five nephews dead. As of mid-April 2013 there were more than 173,000 Malian refugees in neighbouring countries. Within the arid West African nation there are an estimated 260,000 internally displaced people.

Relocation from the Border Country of Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso: Election Sunday Play video

Burkina Faso: Election Sunday

Hundreds of Malian refugees voted in exile at the weekend in the presidential election in their home country, way down on the numbers eligible to cast a ballot.

Burkina Faso: Water CaravansPlay video

Burkina Faso: Water Caravans

In Burkina Faso's arid Sahel region, UNHCR trucks are shuttling desperately needed water supplies to Malian refugees.
Burkina Faso: Moving to SafetyPlay video

Burkina Faso: Moving to Safety

Malian refugees in Burkina Faso's Fererio camp are moved further away from the border with Mali to ensure their safety.
Burkina Faso: A Harsh ExilePlay video

Burkina Faso: A Harsh Exile

107,000 Malians have arrived in this small West African country since January. They have abandoned everything to escape the conflict in northern Mali and now must survive in refugee camps in Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso: Appeal for HelpPlay video

Burkina Faso: Appeal for Help

The Mali crisis has driven over 250,000 people into the region. UNHCR chief António Guterres travelled to the largest host country in a call for more support.