Despite COVID-19 threats at home and pressures over the US elections and its aftermath, the US Embassy in Ouagadougou has sent security notice to all its citizens in Burkina Faso and those intending to visit around this time.
The security notice, which is a routine practice alerting citizens living and working in areas prone to conflict and political turbulence, asks citizens to, among other things, refrain from travelling to Burkina Faso, exercising vigilance during the elections – for those already in the country – and being generally alert.
Since early 2015, the Sahel nation has been hit with militant jihadist activity, which has forced hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe in rural communities into urban communities.
Death tolls in these fatalities have been in the thousands, with the election issues now focused on security and good governance. Investment has slackened and food security in the country touted for its food security and agricultural success stories.
“As we approach the elections in Burkina Faso, the U.S. Embassy would like to take this opportunity to remind American Citizens about the importance of personal security. The risk of terrorist attacks and kidnappings remains high as terrorist organizations continue to operate throughout the country. These organizations may attempt to conduct attacks on or around the elections scheduled for 22 November 2020,” a statement issued by the embassy read.
It added “U.S. citizens are advised to exercise caution and additional vigilance while attending gathering places, including places of worship, schools, markets, and restaurants – particularly those frequented by westerners. There continues to be a heightened risk of kidnapping, robbery, and assault throughout Burkina Faso.”
The statement continued that as the election approaches, the US authorities hope that its citizens would exercise caution “in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests or election events” since ordinary demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.
Actions to take
The notice therefore urges being alert, remaining aware of the surroundings and staying informed of local media reports.
Actions to take, the notice pointed out, are exercising additional vigilance throughout the election season and around election events; reviewing personal security plans and being aware of your surroundings.
Additionally, it urges citizens to apply caution, when driving at night and avoid walking after dark; monitoring local media for updates; exercising caution, if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests and, more importantly, staying “alert in locations frequented by tourists/Westerners.”
It concludes that, if any citizen found himself in danger, he should call the Embassy’s line on (226) 25 49 53 00, Ouagadougou or call firstname.lastname@example.org