Fatma Wallet Ibba, Asseytou Wallet Otkel (Al Haders wife) and Makato Wallet Alhader in their tent in the refugee camp.
Photo: Sida / Susanna Wasielewski Ahlfors
Sida's support to refugees
The UNHCR currently manages three refugee camps in Burkina Faso for refugees from the neighbouring country Mali. Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has been assigned to provide shelters to the refugees, and their work is partly funded by Sida.
If a country's government does not have the resources to take care of refugees from another country, the UN refugee agency UNHCR can intervene and help manage the task. Through the refugee organisation CONAREF, the Burkinese state decides where in the country the camps should be located.
The two largest camps, Mentao (11,000 people*) and Goudebo (9,000 people) are situated in northern Burkina Faso. One third smaller camps outside the capital Ouagadougou will be closed in 2015.
A large problem in many refugee catastrophes is when the emergency humanitarian crisis has passed, the funding declines and the issue of where the refugees should end up arises. If the Burkinese people now welcome their neighbours with open arms, the situation can change if the visitors decide to remain, and bring their animals. This entails greater competition for pasturage in the dry region, and more people to share resources such as schools, water and health care.
The UNHCR sees three scenarios for the refugees in Burkina Faso:
- returning (which is difficult if the refugees do not want to return, or if the conditions in the home country are poor),
- integration in the host country
- transfer; that some can be received as quota refugees in, for example, Europe or the US.
The activities to cover the needs in the camp are divided into several sectors that are coordinated in clusters. Different organisations are assigned to assist with different aspects: for example, water and sanitation, food security, education, waste management, health, non-food items or logistics.
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is responsible for providing shelter to the refugees. In dialogue with the refugees, they have developed a tent that is similar to the ones used by nomadic Tuaregs, who comprises approximately 60 per cent of the refugees in the camp. Each family can collect an emergency tent on arrival, which is gradually replaced with a more permanent tent, 4 x 5 metres, that is supported by iron bars and reed roofs and plastic sheets on top. The walls comprise of plastic mats, and the same kind of mats are also used for sleeping . The refugees who choose to return to Mali are allowed to bring their tents with them, to have a roof over their head when they arrive.
UNHCR collaborates with all organisations in the camp in order to continuously receive updated information about how many have received a tent, where they live and which refugees have received food. If a household has been absent from three food distributions in a row, one can assume that they have left the camp and returned home.
The refugees’ rights and opinions are respected as they can participate in and influence different committees in the camp. For example, the committee of women, of children or of wise men, which discusses legal issues and provides advice on minor conflicts, for example within the families.
In 2014, Sida contributed with three million SEK to NRC's efforts to assist refugees from Mali with shelter in Burkina Faso. For 2015, the support is planned to increase to four million SEK.
In 2014, NRC reached 535households (approximately 1920 people) with shelter and the target for 2015 is 400 households. In total, shelter for 5000 households have been completed since the NRC's efforts started in 2012.
* in January 2015