Burkina Faso’s young Fula people caught between threat from jihadists and army

By François Hume et Olivia Macadré

In a country beset with spiralling jihadist violence, young people from Burkina Faso’s Fula community are the ideal recruits for armed groups keen to capitalise on the discontent stemming from extreme poverty and the frequent abuses committed by government troops in this part of Africa. And as François Hume and Olivia Macadré report, if they reject the jihadists’ call to arms, they are widely seen as guilty by association.

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Dripping with sweat, 22-year-old Mohamed grinned broadly as he asked: “Would you like something to eat?” He whipped out a damp rag to wipe down the last free table and dusted off the chairs around it. It was lunchtime, and the Maquis de l’Amitié ('The Friendship Café') in the heart of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, was packed.