What’s new? In Burkina Faso, violence is intensifying as a result of a multifaceted rural crisis. Armed groups are proliferating, including bandits, jihadists and self-defence movements. In 2019, Burkina Faso suffered more jihadist attacks than any other Sahelian country.
Why does it matter? The country is locked in a perilous downward spiral. Jihadists are gaining ground by exploiting rural communities’ frustrations. In turn, the government’s largely military response often entails abuses by security forces and self-defence groups that fuel local, community-based violence that provides a fertile recruiting ground for diverse armed groups.
What should be done? The government should limit both its use of force and the role of self-defence groups in its counter-insurgency efforts, and develop a more integrated approach to security. In the longer term, resolving land disputes that often drive local conflicts is a priority in tackling the crisis in the Burkina countryside.