Update May 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor N° 4, May 2022
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The number of incidents of  political violence recorded by ACLED have decreased from February 2022 through April.[1] The most violent events  in the Sahel region occurred during the last weeks of the month, military forces conducted airstrikes and ground offensives against Islamist militants of both the Islamic State Sahel Province as well as the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin,[2] which was most active in the Centre-North and East regions at the start of the month.[3]

The joint Niger-Burkina Faso ‘Taanli’ 3 operation to combat Islamist militants along the countries’ shared border operated throughout April, with military forces conducting airstrikes and ground offensives in the last weeks of the month.[4] 100 jihadists were killed and at least 40 were arrested according to the military.[5]

At the start of the month, President Damiba announced new government measures: banning civilians from living or working in specific military operational zones and restricting large protests.[6] Moreover, local committees for dialogue and the restoration of peace will be set up to promote dialogue with jihadist group leaders and livelihood opportunities will be offered for militants willing to disarm.[7]

Former President Kabore was allowed to return home after being detained since being ousted in January 2022, following ECOWAS demands for his unconditional release.[8] In spite of this, tensions with the regional block continued over the duration of the transitional period to constitutional rule without the military government presenting anything on it.  At the start of the month, Damiba had indicated the current 36-month transition timeline could only be revised if the security situation demanded it.[9] 25 April marked the deadline ECOWAS had offered both Guinea and Burkina Faso to come up with a more reasonable plan, but the government requested more time.[10]

On 6 April, a military tribunal sentenced former president Blaise Compaore and two other associates in absentia to life imprisonment for complicity in the 1987 murder of his predecessor Thomas Sankara.[11] Compaore denounced the trial as politically motivated and a play for popularity.[12] Lawyers representing Sankara’s family demanded Compaore’s extradition from the Ivory Coast to serve his life sentence.[13]

The forced displacement due to the ongoing violence has prevented people from farming causing an 82% increase in food insecurity, with 3.5 million people food insecure and 630,000 expected to be on the brink of starvation.[14]


Attacks by militants linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State have killed thousands in Burkina Faso since 2015.17 An estimated 1.8 million people have been displaced, concentrated in the north of the country.18 The coup in January 2022, was sparked in part by the government’s inability to fully address this.

International response:

Due to what appears to be a lack of intent to abide by ECOWAS’ request for a more reasonable timeline for a return to civilian rule, the regional bloc announced that it would send missions to the country before a forthcoming summit of heads of state.[15] Meanwhile, civil society organisations in Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso, urged ECOWAS to lift all political, individual and economic sanctions arguing that they were adversely affecting the population and were unlikely to resolve the problems they were intended to address.[16]

[1] ACLED Data.

[2] ACLED regional overview: Africa 16-22 April, 28 April 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/04/13/regional-overview-africa-2-8-april-2022/

[3] ACLED regional overview: Africa 02-08 April, 28 April 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/04/28/regional-overview-africa-16-22-april-2022/

[4] ACLED regional overview: Africa 16-22 April, 28 April 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/04/28/regional-overview-africa-16-22-april-2022/

[5] The Defense Post, “Niger, Burkina Faso Say 100 Jihadists Killed in Joint Op,” 26 April 2022, https://www.thedefensepost.com/2022/04/26/niger-burkina-100-jihadists-killed/

[6] Daily Mail, “Burkina Faso sets up local panels to talk to jihadists,” 2 April 2022, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-10678761/Burkina-Faso-sets-local-panels-talk-jihadists.html

[7] The New Humanitarian, “Burkina Faso to support local talks with jihadists: A Q&A with the minister of reconciliation,” 27 April 2022, https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/interview/2022/04/27/dialogue-with-jihadists-interview-with-burkina-fasos-minister-of-reconciliation

[8] La Prensa Latina, “Burkina Faso’s military junta frees overthrown president Kabore,” 7 April 2022, https://www.laprensalatina.com/burkina-fasos-military-junta-frees-overthrown-president-kabore/

[9] Reuters, “Burkina Faso leader says security situation will dictate transition timeline,” 2 April 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/burkina-faso-leader-says-security-situation-will-dictate-transition-timeline-2022-04-01/?rpc=401&

[10] Africa News, “Burkina Faso, Guinea request more time to present transition plans,” 28 April 2022, https://www.africanews.com/2022/04/27/burkina-faso-guinea-request-more-time-to-present-transition-plans/

[11] Reuters, “Burkina Faso’s ex-president Compaore handed life sentence in absentia over Sankara murder,” 6 April 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/burkina-fasos-former-president-compaore-sentenced-life-prison-over-sankara–04-06/

[12] The National Interest, “Burkina Faso’s Ex-President Convicted for Sankara Killing,” 7 April 2022, https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/burkina-fasos-ex-president-convicted-sankara-killing-201701

[13] Africa News, “Sankara lawyers demand former president’s extradition,” 8 April 2022, https://www.africanews.com/2022/04/08/sankara-lawyers-demand-former-president-s-extradition/

[14] Associated Press, “Hunger grips Burkina Faso due to increasing jihadi violence,” 26 April 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-islamic-state-group-ouagadougou-burkina-faso-business-b40b1270fbd8f90afa6c9aaada4fde82

[15] Africa News, “Burkina Faso, Guinea request more time to present transition plans,” 28 April 2022, https://www.africanews.com/2022/04/27/burkina-faso-guinea-request-more-time-to-present-transition-plans/

[16] All Africa, “West Africa: CSOs, OSIWA Urge ECOWAS to Lift Sanctions, Support Inclusive Political Transitions in Guinea, Mali & Burkina Faso,” 26 April 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202204270223.html