Ouagadougou – Burkina Faso has stopped the Norwegian Refugee Council from working in camps for displaced people in the jihadist-hit north after accusing the body of discrediting the government.
This is the first time an international NGO has been temporarily stopped from working in the West African country, where jihadist attacks have burgeoned since 2015 claiming nearly 2,000 lives.
“I have decided to immediately suspend the activities of the NRC in camps for internally displaced people,” said a letter by Minister for Humanitarian Action Helene Marie Laurence Ilboudo, addressed to the governor of the Centre North region and dated September 27.
“Several other governors and heads of regional councils for aid and rehabilitation have received similar decisions to suspend the activities of the NRC and have taken measures,” a regional official said, on condition of anonymity.
Ilboudou accused the NRC of “discrediting the government” and said it had stopped NGOs from registering internally displaced people “in the most inaccessible zones”.
The NRC did not comment on the decision.
But in mid-September it said government authorities took weeks to register displaced people to allow them to source food and other aid, thereby forcing them to return to dangerous zones.
“The failure to address urgent humanitarian needs forces vulnerable families to make an impossible choice between feeding their children and their own safety. Many people tell NRC that they want to return home to access their food stocks and feed their families, but fear attacks,” it said in a statement.
The NRC has been working in Burkina Faso since July 2019.
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