Burkina Faso, Mali: A bloody start to the new year
Some 37 Fulani people were killed on 1 January 2019 in an armed raid on the Mopti region village Koulogon in central Mali. According to a government statement, the attackers were “armed men dressed like traditional Dozo hunters.” Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita visited the graves of the victims. The government donated food and money to help the victims’ families rebuild the village and encourage them to stay. “We have come to tell you the Malian state is with you. We offer the condolences of the nation and assure you this crime will not go unpunished,” Keita said. The government launched an investigation and an independent UN human rights report is expected to shed light on the tragic event. A second inter-community clash took place on the New Year’s Day in the village of Yirgou in central-northern Burkina Faso. Following an armed attack by terrorists, Burkinabé villagers attacked a nearby camp of nomadic Fulani herders, accusing them of being the militants’ accomplices. According to the government’s official record, 49 people were killed. President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré presented his condolences and told the villagers that they have the government’s full support to ensure their safety. Several thousand Burkinabé gathered on 12 January in Ouagadougou at a silent protest march against impunity and the stigmatisation of communities. “It doesn’t matter whether we are Mossi, Bobo, Gourounsi, Fulani, Senoufo, Gourmatche, etc. We are first of all Burkinabé people and we have to preserve the Faso and defend it,” read one protestor’s sign. Hassane Barry, president of the newly-created Collective against Impunity and Stigmatisation of Communities (CCISC), underscored that the killings in Yirgou are not an “ethnic problem”, but were simply the criminal act of some individuals. “Burkina Faso has no ethnicities. Burkina Faso has a Burkinabé people,” he declared. On 31 December, the government of Burkina Faso declared a state of emergency in 14 of its 45 provinces. Within the past three years, terrorist attacks have caused more than 270 fatalities in the country, and the capital city Ouagadougou has been attacked three times. About 800 schools have been closed. The overall situation in the Sahel remains highly unstable, despite a strong military presence.