For seven years, Burkina Faso has faced a jihadist insurgency.
At the end of the operation to recruit civilian auxiliaries for the Burkinabè army, more than 90,000 people volunteered for the defense of the homeland (VDP), the Patriotic Watch and Defense Brigade (BVDP) reports, including the goal of enrolling 50,000 civilians.
In a press release published on Thursday evening, the BVDP welcomed ” great mobilization of the populations and congratulated them on their commitment to the service of the motherland “.
But who are these potential VDPs, ready to fight with armed terrorist groups? According to information obtained by APA, they are both men and women. The fight against terrorism is not just a male affair. It is a civic and patriotic duty “, a volunteer confided. The youngest VDP is 18 while the oldest is 79, a census official said.
As for the profiles of future army auxiliaries, the counter revealed the presence of men who were already used to weapons. They are police officers dismissed after the 2011 mutiny, retired soldiers, members of Koglwéogo self-defense groups and traditional dozo hunters.
He added that “Burkinabe from all socio-professional backgrounds and all communities” enlisted. “We have carpenters, masons, workers, traders, breeders, farmers… I think all ethnic groups felt concerned. There are Lobis, Mossis, Gulmentchés, Dafins, Peulhs. Everyone is there.” he said.
The collective against impunity and stigmatization of local communities had called for recruitment “without discrimination”, at a time when the state is accused of drawing VDPs from among the Mossi.
Community policing expert Oumarou Yaro confirmed that the VDPs “must be sociologically representative of the sensitivities of each locality. They must be a representative sample of the community they represent”.
From there, our source mentioned the registration of pupils, students and workers from the private and public sectors, including health workers, teachers, agricultural workers… “A civil servant can go to the front to defend the nation. He becomes a VDP, but will still enjoy his salary as a doctor, teacher or other”, an officer in Bla VDP told APA.
From “new” Volunteers for the defense of the homeland (VDP), he finds luxury registrants such as the ministers of higher education, Professor Adjima Thiombiano, and youth, Issouf Sirima, the lawyer and man of letters, Me Frédéric Titinga Pacéré, 79 years old, politician and former minister, Me Bénéwendé S. Sankara , the sole survivor of the events of October 15, 1987, etc.
“In accordance with the statute of the VDP, not all registrants can be retained at this time and the BVDP encourages all those in a situation of irregularities to comply with the rules if they maintain their decision to serve as a VDP”, said Lt. Col. Thomas Savadogo of the BVDP. This measure concerns registrants who do not have Burkinabe nationality, trade unionists and politicians.
According to the June 2022 decree on the status of the VDP, those who will be retained will benefit from an initial military training of two to four weeks. They will sign a renewable two-year contract with the state before being made available to the BVDP, itself attached to the National Theater Operations Command (COTN), now under the supervision of the General Staff Armies (EMGA).
The assistant of the defense and security forces (FDS) is a “agent” of information, armed, participating in the military operations in the fight against terrorism, in cooperation with the army. The new VDP will have a bonus, the decree states, without any details. However, according to compliant sources, each aide will benefit from financial support of 60,000 FCFA per month.
The VDPs are an essential part of the strategy to fight the jihadists of Captain Ibrahim Traoré, president of the transition to Burkina Faso. This is based on the Special Anti-Terrorist Force (FORSAT), which provides the army’s auxiliary forces. ” From now on, we will act together “, said Captain Traoré to representatives of the VDP.
The recruitment of the army will in future also take place within civilian auxiliary forces, according to the government. For journalist Serge Oulon, future recruits are one “alternative to the problem of manpower in the army”. “We must also hope to get more aggressiveness, dynamism and commitment in the fight, especially since the volunteers have often shown real motivation to fight in certain areas. Their bravery often borders on miracles”commented the journalist.