US Embassy in Burkina Faso orders children of employees out

The U.S. Embassy in Burkina Faso’s capital said it had ordered the departure of family members of embassy employees under the age of 21 from the country due to the deteriorating security situation.

In a statement on Wednesday, the embassy in Ouagadougou said there was no specific threat to prompt the directive, however security issues in the West African nation had reached a point where it was no longer “appropriate” for children to remain with the embassy community. Consular services and diplomatic engagements will not be affected, the embassy said.

The announcement also comes as the US State Department raised its travel advisory for American citizens to “Do Not Travel” as a result of “terrorism, crime and kidnapping,” according to the advisory.

On Tuesday, the US government also ordered all minor family members of government employees to leave Burkina Faso and advised the voluntary departure of non-emergency staff.

The government warned that kidnapping and hostage-taking remained a threat in the country, while terrorist networks could strike at any time.

“The US government is unable to provide emergency services to US citizens throughout most of the country, as US government personnel are restricted from travelling to regions outside the capitol due to security concerns,” according to the advisory.

In May, four hostages, including an American and a South Korean were freed by French forces after they were kidnapped in neighboring Benin.

Armed conflict

Burkina Faso has been beset by armed conflict and terrorist networks operate with impunity targeting public places of gathering, including hotels, restaurants. Foreign embassies and military bases have also come under attack in the past.

At least eight people were killed and more than 80 were injured in two coordinated attacks against the French embassy and the country’s military headquarters in Ouagadougou in 2018.

The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) in November said health workers have had to leave troubled regions of the country while many clinics in areas affected by the violence have been shut down.

About 500,000 residents have fled due to the conflict in the Sahel and eastern regions of the country this year, ICRC said.

Nearly 40 people were killed and several were injured this month after gunmen opened fire on a convoy carrying workers of Canadian mining in eastern Burkina Faso, according to the Canadian-based mine operator SEMAFO, whose workers were attacked.