‘We don’t have food’: African leaders meet as crises grow

May 27, 2022, 7:57 AM | Updated: 9:07 am
People lean on a tree in Djibo, Burkina Faso, Thursday May 26, 2022. African leaders have gathered ...

People lean on a tree in Djibo, Burkina Faso, Thursday May 26, 2022. African leaders have gathered for a summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to address growing humanitarian needs on the continent, which is also facing increased violent extremism, climate change challenges and a run of military coups. Leaders on Friday called for increased mobilization to resolve a humanitarian crisis that has left millions displaced and more than 280 million suffering from malnourishment. (AP Photo/Sam Mednick)

(AP Photo/Sam Mednick)

DJIBO, Burkina Faso (AP) — African leaders gathered for a summit Friday in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to address growing humanitarian needs on the continent, which is also facing increased violent extremism, climate change challenges and a run of military coups.

Leaders called for increased mobilization to resolve a humanitarian crisis that has left millions displaced and more than 280 million suffering from malnourishment.

For people in Djibo, a town in northern Burkina Faso near the border with Mali, any help can’t come soon enough.

The city in the Sahel region — the large expanse below the Sahara Desert — has been besieged since February by jihadis who prevent people and goods from moving in or out and cut water supplies. Few truckers want to run the jihadist gauntlet. Residents are suffering with no food or water, animals are dying and the price of grain has spiked.

“The goods are not arriving anymore here. Animal and agricultural production is not possible because the people cannot go back to their villages,” U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator Barbara Manzi told The Associated Press from Djibo this week. “Unless (a solution) is found, it’s going to be really a tragedy for the entire group of people that are here.”

Djibo has been at the epicenter of the violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group that has killed thousands and displaced nearly 2 million people. While Djibo — and Soum province where the town is located — experienced periods of calm, such as during a makeshift ceasefire between jihadis and the government surrounding the 2020 presidential election, the truce didn’t last.

Since November, insecurity in the region has increased. Jihadis have destroyed water infrastructure in the town and lined much of Djibo’s perimeter with explosives, blockading the city, say locals.

The town’s population has swollen from 60,000 to 300,000 over the last few years as people flee the countryside to escape the violence.

Blockading cities is a tactic used by jihadis to assert dominance and could also be an attempt to get Burkina Faso’s new military junta, which seized power in January, to backtrack on promises to eliminate the jihadis, said Laith Alkhouri, CEO of Intelonyx Intelligence Advisory, a group that provides intelligence analysis.

“Militants resort to blockading when they see an opportunity to gain incentives in negotiating with the government and simultaneously send a message to their base that they are in control. It’s a bargaining card and a winning one,” he said.

A U.N. team flew in briefly to assess the situation. The AP was the first foreign media to visit the town in more than a year.

“Today there is nothing to buy here. Even if you have cash, there is nothing to buy. We came here with four donkeys and goats and some of them died because of hunger. We were forced to sell the rest of the animals and unfortunately prices of animals have decreased,” said cattle owner Mamoudou Oumarou.

The 53-year-old father of 13 fled his village in February and said the blockade in Djibo has prevented people from coming to the market to buy and sell cattle, decreasing demand and lowering prices for the animals by half.

Before the violence, Djibo had one of the biggest and most vital cattle markets in the Sahel and was a bustling economic hub. Some 600 trucks used to enter Djibo monthly, now it’s less than 70, said Alpha Ousmane Dao, director of Seracom, a local aid group in Djibo.

Burkina Faso is facing its worst hunger crisis in six years, more than 630,000 people are on the brink of starvation, according to the UN.

As a result of Djibo’s blockade, the World Food Program has been unable to deliver food to the town since December and stocks are running out, said Antoine Renard, country director for the World Food Program in Burkina Faso.

Efforts to end the blockade through dialogue have had mixed results. At the end of April, the emir of Djibo met with Burkina Faso’s top jihadist, Jafar Dicko, to negotiate lifting the siege. However, little progress has been made since then.

Locals say the jihadis have eased restrictions in some areas allowing freer movement, but that the army is now preventing people from bringing food out of Djibo to the surrounding villages for fear it will go to the jihadis.

The army denied the allegations.

Meanwhile residents in Djibo say they’re risking their lives just trying to survive.

Dadou Sadou searches for wood and water in the middle of the night outside of Djibo, when she says the jihadis are not around.

“We no longer have animals, we don’t have food to buy in the market … If you have children, you don’t have a choice,” she said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Hong Kong's new Chief Executive Carrie Lam attend th...
Associated Press

China’s Xi to visit Hong Kong for handover anniversary

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping will visit Hong Kong this week to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the former British colony’s 1997 return to China, a state news agency said Saturday, in his first trip outside the mainland since the start of the coronavirus pandemic 2 1/2 years ago. Xi also will attend […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Planes sit on the tarmac at the Des Moines International Airport, Monday, June 13, 2022, in ...
Associated Press

Airlines aim to shift blame for flight problems to FAA

DALLAS (AP) — Airlines under scrutiny for widespread flight disruptions are renewing their criticism of the government agency that manages the nation’s airspace, saying that understaffing at the Federal Aviation Administration is “crippling” traffic along the East Coast. Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. carriers, said Friday it wants to know FAA’s staffing […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Investigators search for evidences outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, May 25, ...
Associated Press

Graduating Uvalde High School class remembers slain children

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Almost 300 high school seniors received their diplomas Friday in Uvalde in the shadow of the massacre of 19 elementary school students and two teachers one month earlier. The 288 red-gowned Uvalde High School seniors sat in 100-degree heat at the school stadium on the one-month anniversary of the mass shootings. […]
21 hours ago
Nancy Lee Grahn arrives with the words "Reproductive Freedom" on her body and carries a purse with ...
Associated Press

‘General Hospital’ sweeps supporting nods at Daytime Emmys

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Two “General Hospital” actors have won supporting honors at the Daytime Emmy Awards. Kelly Thiebaud plays Dr. Britt Westbourne and Jeff Kober portrays Cyrus Renault on the ABC drama. A gleeful Thiebaud won on her first nomination Friday night. “I cannot believe this. I am so shocked,” she said. “My brother, […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

California GOP Rep. Valadao advances in US House district

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rep. David Valadao advanced Friday to a November runoff in a Democratic-tilting district in California’s Central Valley, surviving a challenge from a fellow Republican who faulted the congressman for his vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump. With most of the votes tallied in the 22nd District, Valadao had about 26% of […]
21 hours ago
A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months through 5 years old is seen, Tuesday, ...
Associated Press

Moderna COVID-19 shots now an option for older kids in US

NEW YORK (AP) — There is now a second COVID-19 option for kids ages 6 to 17 in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday announced it is recommending Moderna shots as an option for school-age kids and teens. This group has been able to get shots made by Pfizer since […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
‘We don’t have food’: African leaders meet as crises grow