In 2020, UNMAS in Burkina Faso established the Mine Action Sub-Cluster in partnership with the National Commission against the Proliferation of Small Arms (CNLPAL) and promoted full integration of humanitarian mine action into the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2021. UNMAS initiated the first-ever humanitarian mine action activities to help preserve the sanctity of life, delivering risk education to more than 109,000 people, including vulnerable people living in regions affected by the crisis and humanitarian workers.
In coordination with the Ministry of Security, UNMAS is working to ensure that law enforcement and security personnel are able to safely deploy and carry out their functions in high-risk areas, contributing to the national priority to reform security institutions and promote stability and rule of law in regions impacted by the conflict. UNMAS provided risk awareness, mitigation training, and first responder medical kits for over 2,200 members of law enforcement, in addition to training instructors as part of an initiative to promote national ownership.
UNMAS is looking to continue building on the success achieved so far and enhance support to both humanitarian mine action and the Ministry of Security to meet identified needs for 2021.
UNMAS Burkina Faso contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions” and the Strategic Objectives of the UN Mine Action Strategy 2019-2023: SO 1. Protection of individuals and communities from the risks and socio-economic impacts of explosive ordnance strengthened, and SO 3. National institutions effectively lead and manage mine action functions and responsibilities.
UNMAS deployed to Burkina Faso in 2019 as part of the UN Secretary General’s Emergency Task Force for Burkina Faso to provide an assessment on the improvised explosive device (IED) threat and advisory services to the mission. The Resident Coordinator and the Burkinabe Ministry of Security requested UNMAS to support the Government of Burkina Faso and improve threat mitigation for civilians in areas impacted by conflict. UNMAS’s vision is to establish a self-sustaining capacity to reduce the threat posed by explosive ordnance to communities and national authorities and handover all mine action responsibilities to national counterparts.
The humanitarian crisis in Burkina Faso is deteriorating, exacerbated by mass displacement, a lack of access to basic services, and a growing trend in the use explosive ordnance. The presence of IEDs in particular is a worrying development in Burkina Faso. These complex devices are harder to detect, indiscriminate, and often require specialized equipment and knowledge to mitigate, which are currently lacking in the country. Their presence, along with other explosive ordnance, risks compounding existing vulnerabilities, hindering freedom of movement, safe access to basic services, and increasing instability, in addition to posing a direct threat to civilians and humanitarian operations.
1.2 million men, women, boys, and girls are estimated to be living in the areas most impacted, with over 764,000 considered to be especially in need due to existing protection vulnerabilities. Since 2017, 361 people have been killed or injured in explosive ordnance accidents, almost all of which were caused by IEDs (98.8 per cent). While members of the defense and security forces have been the primary targets since 2017, civilians accounted for 50 per cent of victims in 2020, up from 36 per cent in 2019. Explosive ordnance, IEDs in particular, can be unknowingly triggered by the victims themselves. This increases the threat to those unaware of the danger. The majority of explosive accidents occurred along roads, placing IDPs, returnees, and other migrant populations, at great risk.
UNMAS aims to provide Burkinabe law enforcement, communities, and the humanitarian community the knowledge, tools, and capacity to reduce the threat posed by explosive ordnance in high-risk areas.
Developing national capacity and establishing national mine action strategies and measures:
In collaboration with the Ministry of Security and the CNLPAL, UNMAS is working to enhance the national ownership of mine action capabilities with the view to a sustainable, long-term capacity. For this, UNMAS provides training of trainers on threat mitigation and risk education. UNMAS is also working to ensure that they have strategies in place to confront the evolving threat. This includes the development of national mine action standards, accreditation processes, enhancing coordination, and providing technical support and guidance in the development of national strategies.
Risk education for the affected communities and humanitarian workers:
UNMAS is working to preserving the sanctity of life for communities impacted by the explosive threat, providing support to the CNLPAL, facilitating the implementation of risk education, and providing gender and diversity tailored materials for civilians affected by the conflict to mitigate the risk posed by explosive devices and strengthen resilience. In August 2020, UNMAS implemented the first-ever humanitarian risk education for civilians in the most affected regions.
Train and equipping law enforcement to mitigate the explosive threat:
In collaboration with the Ministry of Security, UNMAS is providing IED threat mitigation training and equipment to law enforcement officers and cadets in training centers to help them deploy safely in high-risk areas. Training in 2020 included risk awareness, first aid kit training, and basic search and detect, and will be expanding to include advanced route search and detect and post-blast investigation.
Explosive threat analysis:
UNMAS is developing a consolidated IED incident database and provides analysis on the trends and impact of the explosive threat. Analysis suggests that armed groups operating in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, have a regional capacity for the knowledge-transfer of IED techniques, tactics, and procedures, threatening peace and security in the country and in the sub-region, and as such, the frequency of the use of IEDs in Burkina Faso is increasing.
Advocacy and coordination:
UNMAS leads the Mine Action Sub-Cluster and contributed to the development of the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview and Humanitarian Response Plan, fully integrating mine action within the wider response.
UNMAS has received generous support from the Government of Canada, and the Kingdoms of the Netherlands and Denmark through the UNMAS unearmarked funding pool, allowing UNMAS to maintain the successes achieved in 2020 and continue providing support where it is needed most.
For 2021, the programme estimates that 2 million USD are needed to provide an effective response and support to both the Ministry of Security and Humanitarian Mine action. Funding would enable UNMAS to implement planned risk education activities, increase capacity development, and look to expand strategic efforts.
Data as of March 2021