Burkina Faso: A Small West African Country Struggles to Bring Peace to Mali

Burkina Faso: A Small West African Country Struggles to Bring

PETER CHILSON, FOR THE PULITZER CENTER

Col. Moussa Cisse, spokesman for Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Defense, hunched over his desk, cell phone to his ear, scribbling on a pad. It was after 6 p.m. on May 22, 2012, in Ouagadougou, the capital city, and he was just learning about an incident in the country’s north: Farmers had attacked cattle herders over land rights, a common conflict on the sun-washed lands of the West African Sahel, where good soil and grass are scarce. Except in this case an international border fell between combatants. Cattle belonging to ethnic Fulani herders from Burkina Faso had trampled crops of Dogon farmers across the border in Mali. Dozens of people were dead, mostly Fulani men, Cisse told me. Preliminary news reports spoke of hundreds of Fulani fleeing Mali and burnt bodies found in the bush… (To read on, click on title-link)

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