Update June 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor N° 5, June 2022
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Levels of violence remained high in Burkina Faso in May. ACLED reported a slight decrease in reported violence against civilians but an increase in acts of remote violence and battles. Throughout the country there has been a 20% increase in fatalities since the start of the year and over 50% when compared to the monthly average for the past year. Violence in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso has remained steady during the last 12 months, yet in the Centre North region fatalities have increased over 150% and violence in the Centre East has increased over 120% in the past year.

Both Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) and Islamic State (IS) Sahel Province carried out attacks targeting civilians across the Boucle du Mouhoun, Center-East, East, and Sahel regions.[1] In Seno province on 7 May, unknown militants killed at least 11 people between the towns of Dori and Gorgadji.[2] At least 43 were killed throughout the weekend of 15 May.[3] On 22 May, 25 civilians were killed in attacks on two villages.[4] On 26 May, about 50 people were killed by armed gunmen in Madjoari village. The village was attacked two other times this month, killing 17 civilians[5] 11 soldiers and 15 gunmen.[6]

Throughout the month clashes were recorded between JNIM and the IS-Sahel militants and Volunteers for the Defence of the Homeland (VDP) and the army in the Yagha and Soum provinces.[7] 50 militants were killed in two separate military operations that took place on 9 May.[8] 30 militants and 5 soldiers were killed in the Centre North region during the third week of May.[9]

Islamist armed groups and government security forces and their allied militias have committed grave human rights abuses, including  include unlawful killings, summary executions, rape and enforced disappearances in the country according to information provided by Human Rights Watch.[10]

The situation is critical in Djibo in the far north as the town has been under siege since February. It has been the epicentre of violence linked to al-Qaeda and IS, insecurity in the region has been increasing since November and food hasn’t been delivered since December as extremists have restricted movement in and out of the city and cut water supplies. At the end of April, local authorities met with jihadists, to negotiate lifting the siege, but little progress has been made.[11]


Attacks by militants linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State have killed thousands in Burkina Faso since 2015. An estimated 1.8 million people have been displaced, concentrated in the north of the country.The coup in January 2022, was sparked in part by the government’s inability to fully address this.

International Response:

ECOWAS experts visited the country in May to evaluate the security situation following a failure to agree on a transitional process.[12]

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, urged the military junta in Burkina Faso as well as those in Mali and Guinea and to hand power back to civilian rule as soon as possible.[13] He condemned the 25 May killings in Madjoari.[14]

[1] ACLED, Regional overview Africa: 21-27 May, 1 June 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/06/01/regional-overview-africa-21-27-may-2022/

[2] Reuters, “Heavily armed militants break 60 inmates from Burkina Faso prison,” 8 May 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/heavily-armed-militants-break-60-inmates-burkina-faso-prison-2022-05-08/

[3] Andalou Agency, “At least 43 dead in weekend attacks in Burkina Faso: Media,” 16 May 2022, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/at-least-43-dead-in-weekend-attacks-in-burkina-faso-media/2588955

[4] News 24, “At least 11 civilians killed in Burkina Faso village attacks, says governor,” 24 May 2022, https://www.news24.com/news24/africa/news/at-least-11-civilians-killed-in-burkina-faso-village-attacks-says-governor-20220524

[5] DW, “Burkina Faso: Gunmen kill 50 civilians in flare-up of violence,” 27 May 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/burkina-faso-gunmen-kill-50-civilians-in-flare-up-of-violence/a-61942981

[6] The Defense Post, “11 Soldiers, 15 Gunmen Dead in Burkina Faso Attacks: Army,” 20 May 2022, https://www.thedefensepost.com/2022/05/20/soldiers-gunmen-dead-burkina/

[7] ACLED, Regional overview Africa: 14-20 May 2022, 26 May 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/05/26/regional-overview-africa-14-20-may-2022/

[8] Daily Mail, “Burkina army says killed over 50 ‘terrorists’,” 10 May 2022, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-10800617/Burkina-army-says-killed-50-terrorists.html

[9] Andalou Agency, “30 terrorists, 5 soldiers killed in Burkina Faso clash,” 22 May 2022, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/30-terrorists-5-soldiers-killed-in-burkina-faso-clash/2594383

[10] Human Rights Watch, “Burkina Faso: Armed Islamists Kill, Rape Civilians,” 16 May 2022, https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/05/16/burkina-faso-armed-islamists-kill-rape-civilians

[11] Africa News, “Burkina Faso: Northern blockade cuts food supply to thousands of people,” 28 May 2022, https://www.africanews.com/2022/05/28/burkina-faso-northern-blockade-cuts-food-supply-to-thousands-of-people/

[12] Africa News, “ECOWAS experts in Burkina to assess security situation,” 19 May 2022, https://www.africanews.com/2022/05/19/ecowas-experts-in-burkina-to-assess-security-situation//

[13] All Africa, “West Africa: UN Chief Guterres Urges West African Juntas to Return to Civilian Rule,” 2 May 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202205020222.html

[14] UN news, “Secretary-General Strongly Condemns Killing by Extremist Armed Groups in Burkina Faso,” 27 May 2022, https://www.un.org/press/en/2022/sgsm21300.doc.htm