Not gone, but forgotten: The crisis in Burkina Faso

Learn more about the crisis in Burkina Faso, and why it is considered the world’s most neglected displacement crises.

29 June 2023

Woman tying up tarpaulins in Burkina Faso

Recently Burkina Faso topped a table – but this was not a win that anyone would want. It was named the world’s most neglected displacement crisis by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

The NRC base this list on three key criteria. They are lack of humanitarian funding, lack of media attention, and a lack of international and political initiatives. The crisis in Burkina Faso is one of many such crises that fail to hit the world’s headlines. This is despite the scale of the problems they are facing.

In this blog learn more about the crisis in Burkina Faso, how ShelterBox is helping, and how you can help ensure such crises do not become forgotten.

What is happening in Burkina Faso?

Lady in green standing outside a tent
“One day, armed individuals broke into our market and killed close to ninety people. So, we fled.” Kouka, recalling the violence that forced her family to flee home.


Although it was previously known for its religious tolerance and social harmony, Burkina Faso has been gripped by waves of violence caused by extremist militant groups for some years now.

In 2020, the conflict took on a new dimension. Groups started fighting each other over ideological differences and control for territory. The government also launched a military operation against the militant groups. This aimed to push them further north back towards the Mali border. But the government lacks the resources to consolidate the gains, and when its forces retreat the militants return. Attacks on schools, health centres and military patrols by militant groups are common.

As a result of the violence, millions of people in Burkina Faso have been displaced from their homes. They often leave behind everything as their communities are caught in the cross-fighting. While some of those displaced are able to stay with friends and relatives, many more end up in crowded camps.

The crisis in Burkina Faso in numbers

Man and two children sitting next to a pile of belongings in bags up against a brick wall
Shelter was so scarce for Adama and his family that they were forced to keep their belongings outside, where the men also slept at night.


Here are some of the startling figures from the Burkina Faso crisis:

  • One in five Burkinabè require humanitarian assistance. That’s around 4.7 million people – the equivalent of over half the population of Greater London.
  • Nearly 2 million people in Burkina Faso have been forced from their homes. That’s more than the entire population of Devon and Cornwall combined.
  • Burkina Faso has now overtaken Afghanistan with the largest number of people killed by violent extremism in the world (Global Terrorism Index).

Why do crises become forgotten?

Man wearing yellow and blue sitting outside a tent
“Our life has completely changed now. We no longer have land for farming, and we are embarrassed to sit idle while it rains. We are entirely dependant on donations from humanitarians.” Yabre and his family were forced to flee to a displacement camp due to violence.


There are many reasons why some crises might get more support than others. However, the main reason is simply because no one is talking about them. Less media coverage and political discussion lead to less public knowledge, and less support. Other crises might receive a lot more media attention, as has happened with the Ukraine crisis.

Crises such as the one in Burkina Faso being forgotten is not inevitable. It is important we raise awareness of them wherever possible.

How is ShelterBox helping in Burkina Faso?

Lady crouching outside a tent and pouring food from a pot
“Of all the things we received, the [Sahelian tent] was the most useful, followed by the covers. We are no longer worried about the coming rain due to the new shelter as we are well protected.” Marie received a Sahelian tent and other items from ShelterBox


ShelterBox has been working with HELP (Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe) in Burkina Faso since 2020. We have provided people with tarpaulins, kitchen sets, sleeping mats, blankets, soap and buckets. We have helped them to create shelters and provided everyday essentials.

We have recently been working with HELP to provide Sahelian tents. These are shelters that are constructed from local materials. They are more appropriate to the local conditions and climate, and more durable than other emergency shelters. This is important as many in Burkina Faso are displaced for a protracted period of time. People receiving the shelters have also received instructions on their care and maintenance. Our next project in Burkina Faso aims to help 1,100 households by providing these Sahel tents on durable concrete bases. This will help protect people from flooding, and improve hygiene and dignity.

What can you do to help?

Man standing outside a sahelian tent next to a chair made of wood and reeds
Noanga and his family received a Sahelian tent after losing their home


The crisis in Burkina Faso, and other crises, should not be forgotten. You can learn more about them here on our website, and can sign up for our mailing list. You can also share this blog, our social media posts, emails and other content with your friends and family. The more people who know about these crises, the better.

Also, if you would like to help ShelterBox respond to crises around the world, please donate now.