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Burkinabé Red Cross keeping Malian refugees in touch with loved ones back home

When fighting broke out in northern Mali in January 2013, tens of thousands of refugees fled into Burkina Faso. Many families were separated in the rush to escape. The Burkinabé Red Cross Society and the ICRC are working together to put relatives back in touch.


The armed conflict in northern Mali that erupted in January 2013 has affected the whole Sahel area of Burkina Faso – there are now 32,000* Malian refugees spread out over a dozen official and unofficial sites. While most have managed to stay in touch with their families back in Mali, those who come from more isolated areas are often unable to make contact by telephone or more traditional means. These are the people that the Burkinabé Red Cross is trying to help.

* UN refugee-agency figures for March 2014.

Photo Gallery 

 


© Karime Ouedraogo, Burkinabé Red Cross Society

Mohamed, like so many of his compatriots, crossed into Burkina Faso in January 2013 to escape the violence. Now living in the Dibissi camp, he had had no news of his family, who had remained in Ntilit, near Gao. But local Red Cross volunteers are providing refugees, including Mohamed, with access to mobile phones so that they can call their loved ones. “Thanks to the Red Cross, I’ve been in touch with my wife and her family,” he said. 

 

 
 © Karime Ouedraogo, Burkinabé Red Cross Society
 
Fatoumata is a young woman who fled to Burkina Faso with her children in in the early days of the crisis. After several months with no word from her husband, she received a Red Cross message (brief, written personal message). She's relieved to know that he is fine, despite the ongoing troubles in Mali.
 
 
 
 
© Karime Ouedraogo, Burkinabé Red Cross Society
 
The three official refugee camps in Burkina Faso are around 30 km from the nearest towns; unofficial camps are even further away. Local volunteers face a real challenge getting help to the people there. But with motorbikes supplied by the ICRC, volunteers now have access to the camps and visit them several times a month to help people get in touch with their loved ones. Since 2014 began, over 500 families have been in touch with their families in Mali via phone calls and Red Cross message services facilitated by local volunteers.
 

 

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