Burkina Faso: the situation remains critical in Sebba, a town under blockade
Since the end of June, the town of Sebba, in the north of Burkina Faso, has been under blockade by radical groups, hampering the supply of food and severely weakening the functioning of health structures.
Waiting line at the Première Urgence Internationale advanced health post in Sebba | © Première Urgence Internationale
Since the end of June, the humanitarian situation in the town of Sebba, which is cut off from the rest of the country and is home to almost 11,000 inhabitants and more than 34,000 displaced people, has worsened considerably, with market stalls virtually empty and health facilities deserted by staff. “During the whole month of July, no supplies could be delivered: no cereals, no food, no fuel“, says Romain Philibert, head of mission of Première Urgence Internationale in Burkina Faso, which has been working in the town for over a year. Although some food products were able to arrive with a military convoy on the night of August 12th and two distributions were organized by humanitarian actors, the number of beneficiaries remains limited and the needs are very significant.
Moreover, “after the start of the blockade on Saturday, June 25th, the state agents, particularly those from the health structures, left their positions“, explains Romain Philibert. As a result, the operation of the Health and Social Promotion Centre (CSPS), where 17 out of 19 workers left, and the Medical Centre with a surgical unit (CMA) – the two public health centres in Sebba – are almost non-operational or at a slower pace. And this, while the number of displaced people arriving in the town of Sebba is increasing. As a result, Première Urgence Internationale advanced health post – set up in 2021 – has seen the number of patients multiply in recent weeks: between 1 and 8 August, 543 people came to see the doctor, while the following week there were 643. “We managed to send medicines to replenish the pharmacy and we increased the number of days of consultations,” explains Romain Philibert, head of mission of Première Urgence Internationale. The teams have also added the treatment of malnutrition, which can no longer be dealt with by the Health and Social Promotion Centre due to a lack of staff. Vaccination has also been included in the activities of Première Urgence Internationale.
Vaccination of children is now one of the activities of Première Urgence Internationale in Sebba | © Première Urgence Internationale
Sebba under blockade: what priorities?
What are the priorities today? “To support the health centres so that, for example, the medical centre with a surgical unit can start up again,” says Romain Philibert. Indeed, without a secondary health structure, “not all cases with complications can be treated as in the case of surgical operations”. In addition to food needs, there is also the question of fuel supply. “For the moment, we can hold out for another two weeks, but how will we be able to move around and carry out activities if we have no fuel?” asks the head of mission of Première Urgence Internationale. He stresses that the work of the NGOs is made difficult by the fact that the telephone network and internet connection are very scarce, which complicates communications with the rest of the teams.
The activities within the advanced health post in Sebba have been made possible thanks to the financial support of theCivil Protection and European Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)and of the Crisis and Support Center of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (CDCS – Centre De Crise et de Soutien).