POSTED March 15, 2021
A UN visit to state of emergency for displaced children in Burkina Faso
Children Believe is helping give 20,000 children and their families a safe space following attacks on their communities
By Patrice Zongo, communications manager, Burkina Faso
It was almost noon when a delegation from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), visited Children Believe’s child-friendly space in the city of Kaya, Burkina Faso. These spaces provide a much-needed refuge for communities as armed opposition-group attacks have threatened their safety.
Metsi Makhetha, resident coordinator for the UN in Burkina Faso, led her colleague Ramesh Rajasingham, acting assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs, deputy emergency relief coordinator, on a visit to Djibo, one of the country’s most insecure regions before visiting Kaya.
“The purpose of my visit is to get a better understanding of the situation of displaced people, and see what may be solutions for better humanitarian assistance,” said Rajasingham. He added that the children and families fled the community to escape death but should get the chance to feel safe to return home, rather than live in a camp for displaced people.
Rajasingham met children in Kaya who were training in life skills and benefiting from psycho-social support to get help dealing with the atrocities they suffered. The traumatized children were learning to socialize and feel safe again. The older girls learned soap-making, dyeing and knitting — trades to help them earn money while coping with their situation.
“For what we have seen, we thank the host communities, the government and the organizations who are doing that great job for the displaced people,” he said of the project that UNICEF funded and Children Believe is implementing with partners working in the area.
We began managing the first child-friendly space — tents and playgrounds — in October 2019 with 400 children, but the site’s population rapidly grew to reach 1,200. Since then, it has been split, and, today, we host 45 child-friendly spaces in two insecurity-prone regions. About 20,000 displaced children are receiving psycho-social care and education, hoping the situation will improve soon.
Rajasingham is hopeful, too. It’s his wish that his visit will signal the international community to take stronger measures to enable children and their families to feel safe to return home. His goal is to bring attention to an issue that has been making hundreds of thousands homeless for years.
To learn more about our work in Burkina Faso, visit childrenbelieve.ca/burkina-faso.
ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:
Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60 years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.
About ChildFund Alliance:
A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.