Searches are underway to find 50 women kidnapped in Burkina Faso

© AFP/ Olympia de Maismont

In northern Burkina Faso, reports have begun to emerge of a kidnapping that took place late last week near the town of Arbinda, in a part of the Sahel under jihadist control. Around 50 women were snatched as they gathered fruits and plants in the bush because of severe food shortage.

The kidnapping happened last Thursday 12 January and Friday 13 January but the information only emerged recently, after three women who managed to escape reported what happened.

Local authorities said that the army and its civilian auxiliaries who have joined the Volunteers for the Homeland have searched the area but, so far, have not found the abductees.

The Sahelian province of Soum in northern Burkina Faso – near Mali and Niger – is largely controlled by jihadist groups like Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) and Ansar-ul Islam. They are blocking food and supplies from reaching the town of Arbinda and the surrounding area.

“A large group of around 40 women went together, last Thursday, to get fruits and plants in the bush as we do not have any food anymore,” a local resident told French news agency AFP.

Due to the prevalent insecurity, farmers do not dare work their land. Last November, local civil society groups warned about an impending crisis.

“The population has used up its food reserves, we are on the brink of a humanitarian disaster,” said Idrissa Badini, a civil society spokesperson told AFP.

“The kidnappers also try to get information out of women whose husbands have enrolled in the Volunteers for the Homeland.

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