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(May 3rd, 2024)

OUAGADOUGOU. The military junta in power in Burkina Faso is blocking Western media: for two weeks it’ll be impossible for Burkinabés to see the BBC and Voice of America websites.

For other newspapers, including Le Monde, Deutsche Welle, TV5Mondo, the block is without time limits, until further notice.

The decision was taken by the Superior Council of Communication following the publication of excerpts from the report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on a massacre that occurred two months ago in the north of the country.



On February 25th, 2024, the Ouagà army executed at least 223 civilians, including 56 children.

Concretely, in Nodin and Soro, two villages besieged by jihadists, the soldiers ordered the people to leave their homes and gathered them into three groups, men, women and children, then opened fire indiscriminately.

Even those who tried to save themselves by fleeing were shot down.

A 32-year-old woman, wounded in the legs, said: “They asked us why we hadn’t warned them of the arrival of the terrorists. The military gave their own answer: “You are jihadists too” and started shooting at us.»

Human Rights Watch calls the carnage one of the worst abuses carried out by the army in almost a decade of fighting against the jihadist coalition that has raged in the country since 2015.



The Burkinabé minister for communications, in a statement, took particular issue with HRW:
“while an investigation is underway to establish the facts and identify the perpetrators, HRW has been able, with boundless imagination, to identify the culprits and pronounce its verdict”, in order to “discredit our fighting forces”.

For around 9 years, Burkina Faso has been grappling with a coalition of jihadist movements that moves in the Sahel practicing the “hit and run” policy. Especially at night, but not only, the guerrillas attack the villages, setting them on fire.

The authorities, both in Ouagà and in neighboring countries, are unable to control the territory: according to the government, at least 40% of it is beyond the reach of the Armed Forces.

In 2023 alone, at least 7,000 people died in this conflict and 2 million was displaced.



Meanwhile, while the juntas that govern Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso form alliances with Russia and China, NATO is considering investing money and troops to remove the Sahel from the control of the two autocratic superpowers.

To this end, it is considering opening training and consultancy missions in some of its partners in those regions, an unprecedented step.

The Atlantic Alliance, which is perceived in most of these countries as an organization that acts according to double standards and pursues only the interests of the Northern States, studies the increase in political and diplomatic dialogue, promotes a new narrative to counter these messages and other collaboration formulas, such as consultative missions.

NATO, therefore, also broadens its gaze to Northern Africa and the Sahel at a time when the various ongoing conflicts appear to be episodes of a broader confrontation between authoritarian and democratic powers.

NATO believes that its security is closely linked to that of the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel, where enormous economic, political and demographic challenges prevail; further fueled by the climate crisis and food insecurity.

Instability causes the displacement of vulnerable populations and migratory pressures crossing the area.

However, the military option alone is not sufficient if the Sahelian populations are not offered serious prospects of well-being where they live: in 2050 Africa will have 2 billion inhabitants, mainly young people, eager to write new pages in their history.

If the democratic West is not able to support these people by helping them escape from underdevelopment, they’ll throw themselves into the arms of those who, in words, will offer prospects of social, economic and political redemption.

This is what clearly emerged from the recent Senegalese elections in which young people supported a new leader who promised to free the country from corruption and bad governance, as well as from the oligarchies that have held power in that country and in others for decades.


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