In Burkina Faso, COVID-19 fight complicated by war, displacement

Just like much of the rest of the world, the coronavirus pandemic is about to upend daily life in Burkina Faso.

Starting on Monday, all schools and universities in the West African country will remain shut for the rest of the month.

Authorities have also banned gatherings of more than 50 people, leading to large events such as concerts and football matches being postponed or cancelled.

In the capital, Ouagadougou, popular venues for socialising were noticeably quieter over the weekend while some residents said they would avoid travel between cities.

War, displacement, weak health system
Burkina Faso has so far registered seven cases of the highly infectious respiratory disease called COVID-19 but NGOs fear many cases could go undiagnosed in a country whose healthcare system has been gutted by conflict.

An impoverished country of some 20 million people, Burkina Faso has in recent years been gripped by escalating violence that has spread across the Sahel region to several countries including Niger and Mali.

Last year, clashes between government forces, bandits and armed groups linked to ISIL and al-Qaeda led to more than 2,000 deaths in Burkina Faso and forced more than 700,000 people to flee their homes.

“In Burkina Faso, the conflict has severely compromised the health infrastructure,” Laurent Saugy, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in the country, told Al Jazeera.

“Some 1.5 million people have seen their access to healthcare cut or significantly reduced since 2019, due to the escalation of violence.”

Authorities have also banned gatherings of more than 50 people, leading to large events such as concerts and football matches being postponed or cancelled.

In the capital, Ouagadougou, popular venues for socialising were noticeably quieter over the weekend while some residents said they would avoid travel between cities.

War, displacement, weak health system
Burkina Faso has so far registered seven cases of the highly infectious respiratory disease called COVID-19 but NGOs fear many cases could go undiagnosed in a country whose healthcare system has been gutted by conflict.

An impoverished country of some 20 million people, Burkina Faso has in recent years been gripped by escalating violence that has spread across the Sahel region to several countries including Niger and Mali.

Last year, clashes between government forces, bandits and armed groups linked to ISIL and al-Qaeda led to more than 2,000 deaths in Burkina Faso and forced more than 700,000 people to flee their homes.

“In Burkina Faso, the conflict has severely compromised the health infrastructure,” Laurent Saugy, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in the country, told Al Jazeera.

“Some 1.5 million people have seen their access to healthcare cut or significantly reduced since 2019, due to the escalation of violence.”

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