Humanitarian and security situation "difficult” in Burkina Faso- ECOWAS

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The humanitarian and security situation in Burkina Faso remains "difficult", experts from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said on Thursday, calling for a "reasonable" transition schedule.

According to the president of the Commission of ECOWAS, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, who led the delegation "we must obviously take the measure of this situation, on the basis of this report which will be submitted to the heads of state and government of ECOWAS.

The junta has set a three-year transition period before elections are held, but ECOWAS wants the duration to be reduced.

The West African organisation had asked Burkina Faso at the end of March to give a new "reasonable" timetable for the transition by 25 April, but Ouagadougou has asked for more time.

The coup government subsequently requested a "military, political and humanitarian" mission from ECOWAS to assess the national situation, before deciding on its request to shorten the transition period.

At the request of the Burkinabe government, the delegation of ECOWAS experts evaluated the security situation in Burkina for three days and "was able to visit certain sites," according to Mr. Kassi Brou.

These visits took place in the localities of Kaya and Barsalogho, the epicentres of the crisis in the north of the country, said Burkina Faso's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olivia Rouamba.

"This evaluation mission is an important step in the continuation of consultations between Burkina Faso and ECOWAS" and "support for the transition process", Rouamba said. "The two heads of delegation reaffirmed the will to work for the success of this process," she added.

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been caught up in a spiral of violence attributed to armed jihadist movements affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, which has left more than 2,000 dead and 1.8 million displaced.

Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba overthrew Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who was accused of being unable to stem the jihadist violence, and made the restoration of security his "priority".

Burkina Faso has been suspended from ECOWAS since the coup that brought Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba to power in late January.

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