The security situation in Burkina Faso is fragile. The West African nation has been under both constant internal and external unrest since 2014. These unrests have a rippling effect on Burkina Faso’s neighbors and as such, pose security implications on them. This paper will focus on the situation in Burkina Faso and its security implications on Ghana.
Burkina Faso is located in West Africa. It is bordered by Mali, Niger, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Cote d’Ivoire. Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger form the Sahel Region. The region is famously known as a victim of continuous attacks from both terrorist and militant groups on its civilians and army positions since 2014. It has become plagued by a rapidly deteriorating security situation. The geographic focus of terrorist attacks has moved from Mali to Burkina Faso and is increasingly threatening West African coastal states.
There are increasing concerns from multiple international bodies on the humanitarian conditions within the Sahel Region. Attacks within the region have increased fivefold since 2016. In Burkina Faso, the death toll increased at an alarming rate from 80 in 2016 to 1800 in 2019. Over half a million people have fled from the violence in Burkina Faso since 2014.
There have been over 200 attacks in Burkina Faso since January 2016. According to the International Crisis Group, the increase is somewhat due to the continuing decline in security after the famous revolution which overthrew the longtime President Blaise Compaoré in 2014, after 27 years in power. It is known that Compaoré’s regime had made deals with several militant and armed groups to stop them from conducting attacks in the country. Many speculate that the end of Compaoré’s reign ended all truces with these groups.
The spread of terrorism and organized crime
In 2019 alone 25,000 Burkinabes sought refuge in neighboring countries, with Ghana being one of them. Ghana is known to be a neighborly country and as such, opens its doors to individuals who are victims of unrest in their respective countries. It is known and applauded as the humanitarian thing to do as we live in a global village and should be our brother’s keeper. However, such a kind gesture can be detrimental to the host. Terrorism is the reason why the Burkinabes are fleeing from their country. A reduction in the population of Burkina Faso and an increase in its devastating and deteriorating situation will not stop the terrorist groups from continuing to attack and kill the Burkinabes. The impact of the terrorist groups is widespread and as such, they will infiltrate regions that are unaffected. Ghana’s border is at risk of infiltration by terrorist groups as it lacks solid systems that can thoroughly check, differentiate and verify all objects and persons that pass through its borders. The terrorists can easily pose as refugees, giving the notion that they are harmless and vulnerable. They can capitalize on this to build their population gradually and strike when the country least expects.
Increase in access to and availability of arms
In every country that experiences any form of conflict, especially due to terrorism, there is a resulting increase in the availability of arms. The greater the access to arms, the easier it is to propagate violence. With any successful infiltration of the nation by terrorist groups, arms will be highly sought after and available to potential vigilante groups as well as the terrorist groups.
The strain on the country’s healthcare services
Any terrorist attacks in the country will come with some form of bloodshed which will result in multiple injuries and/or casualties. Injured individuals, be it nationals or internationals, will require medical care. An increase in these attacks can cause an imbalance in the availability of medical care as there may be fewer well-equipped healthcare centers that can cater for the victims.
The improved border security system
With the right international assistance, primarily Ghana’s allies, the European Union and the United Nations, Ghana can develop a comprehensive border security plan. On 6th February 2020, the European Union launched a 5 million euro project to strengthen border security in Ghana. It is a 4-year project themed “Strengthening Border Security in Ghana. The aim of the project is to improve border management and security by decreasing human trafficking, irregular migration, the smuggling of goods and other cross-border crimes.
Improved military, healthcare and food aid
Ghana can contribute to the international aid that Burkina Faso. In order to reduce the migration of refugees into the country, we can assist Burkina Faso with military aid, food and healthcare. In doing so, Ghana can contribute to improving the situation of the victims of unrest without having to place its borders or itself at direct risk. Approaching the problem in its environment poses less risk to Ghana compared to handling it in the country.
|||Aljazeera, “UN envoy: ‘Devastating surge’ of attacks in Sahel and West Africa,” Aljazeera, 9 January 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/envoy-devastating-surge-attacks-sahel-west-africa-200109011431355.html. [Accessed 8 February 2020].|
|||U. H. C. f. Refugees, “UNHCR stepping up response to escalating violence and displacement in the Sahel region,” ReliefWeb, 4 February 2020. [Online]. Available: https://reliefweb.int/report/burkina-faso/unhcr-stepping-response-escalating-violence-and-displacement-sahel-region. [Accessed 8 February 2020].|
|||J. Blake, “ARGUMENT: Terrorism Threatens a Former Oasis of Stability in West Africa,” Foreign Policy, 1 February 2019. [Online]. Available: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/02/01/terrorism-threatens-a-former-oasis-of-stability-in-west-africa-burkina-faso-mali-compaore/. [Accessed 10 February 2020].|