Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation in West Africa, is bordered by Mali to the north and west; Niger to the northeast; Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, and Ghana to the south; and Benin to the southeast. About half of the country’s population resides in its eastern and central regions, with approximately 70% of Burkinabé living in rural areas. Agriculture has historically driven Burkina Faso’s economy, though it now accounts for just over 25% of total employment. Around 86% of all employment and 94% of nonagricultural employment are considered to be informal.
With a ranking of 182nd out of 189 countries assessed in the UNDP’s 2020 Human Development Index, Burkina Faso struggles with widespread, multidimensional poverty. Approximately 43.8% and 76.7% of people fell below the international poverty lines of $1.90/day and $3.20/day (2011 PPP), respectively, in 2014, while 41.4% of the population fell below the national poverty line in 2018.
Gold has become an indispensable part of Burkina Faso’s economic growth in recent years. The country’s gold mining industry—the fastest-growing in Africa—employs approximately 1.5 million people and was worth around two billion USD in 2019. The exporting of gold, which accounts for approximately 85% of total exports, played a major role in reducing Burkina Faso’s current account deficit from 4.8% of GDP in 2019 to 2.6% in 2020. However, though the expansion of the gold mining industry is playing an important role in Burkina Faso’s economic development, it has also been associated with an increase in exploitation (including human trafficking) in and around mining encampments.
Some of the challenges unique to women in Burkina Faso include female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C)—with nearly 76% of women and girls ages 15 to 49 having experienced it—and child marriage. According to UNICEF and UNFPA’s 2019 country profile on Burkina Faso, one in two girls in the country is married before the age of 18. In terms of women’s share of political power, just 12.7% of women hold seats in local government, and 13.4% hold seats in parliament.
After officially declaring independence from France in 1960, Burkina Faso has since experienced prolonged bouts of political instability. Since 1966, there have been at least seven military coup d’états (four between 1980 and 1987 alone) and three attempted coups. Burkina Faso has had more successful coups than any other country in Africa.
According to Human Rights Watch’s 2021 World Report on Burkina Faso, observers have asserted that Burkinabé security forces executed “hundreds of suspects, last seen in their custody” for their perceived support of armed Islamic extremist groups. Atrocities have reportedly been committed by both the terrorist groups and state security forces, with the latter’s purported crimes primarily involving the unlawful abuse and extrajudicial killings of terrorist suspects.
Largely due to the frequency and severity of armed group attacks, there is an enormous number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Burkina Faso. According to the 2021 TIP Report, the number of IDPs in Burkina Faso increased by over 200% between September 2019 and 2020 (from approximately 300,000 to more than one million people). Around 54% of IDPs are under the age of 15, and the gender distribution is roughly equal (53% women, 47% men). IDPs are at an increased risk of exploitation, and extremist groups have reportedly exploited IDPs in both forced labor and sex trafficking.
https://www.britannica.com/place/Burkina-Faso https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.RUR.TOTL.ZS?locations=BF http://hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/BFA https://apnews.com/article/united-nations-burkina-faso-africa-human-trafficking-government-and-politics-b945a64f01c56bb575f0bc12ac514bd6
As relationships deepen with like-minded partners and contacts in the area, volunteer recruitment and transit monitoring training begin. In November, LJI Burkina Faso officially launches transit monitoring.
Human Trafficking in Burkina Faso
Though it is considered a source, destination, and, increasingly, a transit country for human trafficking, the prevalence of the crime in Burkina Faso does not appear to have been extensively studied. Moreover, much of the available literature focuses on the trafficking and exploitation of children, though the knowledge base on the exploitation of adults is growing as well. That said, the 2018 Global Slavery Index estimates that there are about 82,000 people living in modern-day slavery in Burkina Faso, or around 4.5 people per 1,000. These figures place Burkina Faso at 40th out of 51 African countries in terms of prevalence.
With regards to key trafficking industries in Burkina Faso, gold mining has generated significant concern due to both labor trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women in and near the mines. According to experts and local officials cited in a recent Associated Press article, most documented cases of the trafficking of women associated with the gold mining industry involve victims being trafficked to/near small-scale (rather than large) gold mines.
New mines have been associated with a growth in the number of local brothels, such as in Hounde (southwest Burkina Faso), which saw an increase from one brothel before the opening of a nearby industrial mine to six just four years later. Police have noted the difficulty in determining whether a woman has been trafficked into sex work due to their fear of retaliation from criminal networks.
The majority of publicly available information regarding trafficking within Burkina Faso seems to be focused on the trafficking and exploitation of children, primarily in two key forms:
Child Forced Begging - Children, particularly talibés (students at Quranic schools), may be exploited via forced begging in Burkina Faso.
Recruitment of Child Soldiers - According to the government, extremist groups in Burkina Faso continue to recruit and use child soldiers. A recent Associated Press article, which cited an unpublished report from international aid and conflict experts, indicated that Burkina Faso has seen at least a five-fold increase in the number of child soldiers recruited since the start of 2021. Given both the recruitment of child soldiers and the increasing frequency of attacks on children themselves, Burkina Faso was added to the UN’s 2021 Children and Armed Conflict report (the first time it has ever been included).
Sources: https://apnews.com/article/africa-united-nations-child-soldiers-burkina-faso-e28058b0ae92dfa44df9633bc6affcef/ https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-trafficking-in-persons-report/burkina-faso/ https://apnews.com/article/united-nations-burkina-faso-africa-human-trafficking-government-and-politics-b945a64f01c56bb575f0bc12ac514bd6 https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/resources/downloads/
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