Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie visited on Sunday a refugee camp in Burkina Faso housing refugees fleeing jihadist violence in Mali, and praised the country for welcoming the displaced despite its limited resources and battling its own insurgency.
Burkina Faso, like its neighbours Niger and Mali, is reeling from violent attacks by militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State that have killed thousands and displaced millions in the three countries.
“I’m here to show my solidarity to the Bukinabe people who continue to welcome the displaced brothers and sisters despite terrible attacks and challenges, sharing what little they have at a time when other countries with far more have closed their borders and their minds to the refugees,” Jolie said.
Her trip marked World Refugee Day, which is held every year on June 20.
The actress and refugee activist was speaking at the Goudoubou refugee camp, around 15 kilometres (9 miles) outside the northeastern Burkina Faso town of Dori, close to the Sahel tri-border area which has been the epicentre of the violence.
Burkina Faso suffered its worst attack in early June when 132 residents of the village of Solhan in Yagha province, bordering Niger, were killed by insurgents, causing more to flee.
Around 1.2 million people are displaced due to the violence in Burkina Faso, which is hosting over 22,000 Malian refugees who have fled similar jihadist violence at home. Around 11,000 are at the Goudoubou camp.
Among the refugees in the camp was 22-year old Hawa Diallo, who said she fled Mali with her family due to attacks by jihadists.
Her family first settled in the Burkina Faso region of Djibo but had to pack up and leave again following increased attacks in the area between 2019 and 2020.
“We first settled in Djibo and then Mentao where there was peace until violence started in 2019-2020. We were afraid so we fled, we fled in the bush, we left our belongings, we left people who could not walk behind, after that we were brought to Goudebou,” she said.
The United Nations said on Friday that number of people around the world forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution and human rights abuses has doubled in the past decade to reach 82.4 million.
“The truth is we are not doing half of what we could and should to find solutions to enable refugees to return home,” said Jolie.