Militant Attack In Burkina Faso Leaves 160 Dead

Around 2 am on the night of June 5th, residents of the Solhan village in northern Burkina Faso were met with a barrage of bullets after a group of attackers opened fire in what is considered the deadliest attack the nation has seen since the onset of violent militant attacks in 2015.

The gunmen managed to bypass a group of volunteer security personnel protecting the village and began to shoot at the residents. The attackers then proceeded to burn down several homes and buildings, including the local market. A local source speaking to AFP news, according to the BBC, has claimed that locals in the Solhan region have begun exhuming bodies and burying them after they’ve been transported. Initial reports estimated the death toll to be around 132, including seven children, however, as of June 6th, the death toll has risen to at least 160 people after local officials recovered bodies from what they have described as three mass graves.

Approximately 40 other residents have been critically injured in the attack, and it is feared the death toll will rise as more succumb to their injuries. According to an anonymous nearby resident speaking to Al Jazeera, many of the injured victims were brought to a clinic in the town of Sebba, around 12km away from Solhan. They went on to say that they witnessed family members having to care for their injured loved ones and that many are attempting to flee from Solhan to Sebba. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet. 

The massacre that occurred in Solhan has garnered mass outrage, both at the local and international levels.

Burkinabé President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré has issued a statement in which he describes the attacks as “barbaric”, and offers his condolences to the victims affected by the tragedy. Kaboré also announced a 72-hour period of mourning for citizens of Burkina Faso. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also stated spokesman Stephane Dujarric, in which he “strongly condemns the heinous attack and underscores the urgent need for the international community to redouble support to the Member States in the fight against violent extremism and its unacceptable human toll.” Other public figures such as Pope Francis, and UK High Commissioner to Ghana Iain Walker have publicly expressed their condolences to the victims in Solhan.

As the violence in the Sahel region continues to increase, many are forced to realize that mass killings such as what has occurred in Solhan are becoming commonplace. Late on Friday before the Solhan attack, 13 people and one soldier were killed in a separate attack in the Tadaryat village in northern Burkina Faso. Earlier this year in March, over 137 people were killed in a mass shooting in the villages of Intazayene, Bakorat, and Wistane in Niger, for which the country observed a national three-day period of mourning as well. Countries that have been the most affected by militant insurgency have been those in the Sahel region, including Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali. The mounting violence has now put pressure on other West African countries, such as bordering Ghana and Ivory Coast, to prepare for a potential attack if militants expand and spread beyond the Sahel region.

Aside from the devastating death tolls, the aftermath of the violence has been equally devastating. Burkina Faso has one of the fastest-growing displacement crises in the world, currently estimated to have over one million people displaced and over three million in need of assistance. The security given to residents in the Sahel region has proven ineffective time and time again. The Burkinabé military created the Volunteers for the Defence of the Motherland (VDP) is a coalition of volunteers (the same as those who were present during Solhan attack) who enter vulnerable areas and provide protection for the people as a way of allowing the government to deploy more forces to focus on other issues. Despite military backing, volunteers only receive about two weeks of training before they are sent out to work and expected to protect entire villages from large groups of armed men. The only other protection comes from French troops deployed into the area and some support from international groups, however, the violence appears to be on an upward trend with no sign of slowing.

The Sahel region is in desperate need of adequate protection for its people and more support from the international community, and until then we are faced with the sad reality that innocent people will continue to die.


Yemen, The Largest Humanitarian Crisis In The World

In the past, Yemen was a prosperous developing country suffused with economical and societal riches. Yemen’s roots in the development and distribution of internationally admired goods like coffee and gold date back centuries, which served as a reliable foundation for growth across much of its existence. However, over time it became apparent that Yemen’s unique capabilities would not prove to be an efficient protective mechanism against the travesties of humanity’s inner workings. Slowly, due to international involvement and rivaling political parties intervening with the nation’s societal welfare, the peace that Yemenis embraced for many years was beginning to dissolve into a thing of the past.
2015: The Ignition to Civil Turmoil
In 2004, the United States pushed the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to concentrate on combating a terrorist group known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In response, Yemen’s military force backed by Saudi Arabia launched multiple strikes against a group known as Houthis, who Saleh alleged were creating a dynamic of separatism ,enforcing their religious beliefs on the country’s people and operating in collusion with AQAP. This created a severe rift between the most prominent religious parties in the nation, which established a hostile environment for the state of Yemen and all of its citizens. The trend towards a civil war, indicated by this long standing atmosphere of tension and conflict finally came to a precipice 11 years later. In February of 2015, the Houthi rebellion finally reached the place of power that it desired by forcing Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi (then leader of Yemen, and technically still president of the nation today) and his cabinet to flee to Saudi Arabia, leaving the Houthis essentially in control of the state and all of its facilities. Just a month later, the Saudi Arabian military set the goals of its military intervention to reverse the nation back into the authority of the Hadi government and retain governance over Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Ever since, these two factions have fought relentlessly for control over the nation, which once gave off a lustrous tint of optimism, but after seemingly endless warfare it has been reduced to a pile of debris and a living case study of how a society can collapse under the pressures of greed, religious opposition, and the corruption of foreign affairs.

The Current State of the Humanitarian Crisis
The civil war in Yemen has decreased the living conditions of its people to a terrifying level. With no resolution in sight, Yemeni people are faced with a situation where optimism for a brighter future seems more like an act of dreaming than a mental reflection of reality. In recent weeks, famine conditions caused by blockades on the borders of the nation and massive economic downfall rivaling famous events on global markets like the Great Depression have reached virality in an increased amount of regions around Yemen. It is estimated that nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five in Yemen are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition and could die if they do not receive urgent treatment. Along with mass starvation, the nationwide warfare has resulted in the displacement of approximately 4 million people, and the killing of over 100 000 people since 2015. These numbers give shocking insight into the sheer magnitude of this humanitarian crisis, and with important political figures like the U.S. President Joe Biden recently announcing reductions in international affairs including the civil war in Yemen, it is difficult to perceive a future where Yemeni citizens will be able to go back to the things they love. An individual can only enjoy the level of happiness that their society’s living conditions permits them to, and unfortunately for the Yemeni people, the likelihood of that ever getting back to a point of admiration remains shrouded in mystery.

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