Burkina Faso this week launched a drive to recruit 50,000 civilian defense volunteers to help the army fight jihadists, the authorities said.
“A recruitment is launched of 35,000 communal VDP, that is to say, 100 VDP per commune,” said a statement by the commander of the Brigade of Vigilance and Patriotic Defense (BVDP), Colonel Boukaré Zoungrana, Minister of Territorial Administration, Decentralization and Security on Tuesday.
“The mission of these communal VDPs is to protect, alongside the defense and security forces, the people and property of their communes of origin”, in the face of jihadist attacks, he said.
This local recruitment is in addition to the one on Monday when the BVDP announced its intention to build a force of 15,000 VDPs “that can be deployed throughout the national territory.
The status of the VDP is defined by law since January 21, 2020. It is defined as “a person of Burkinabe nationality, auxiliary to the Defense and Security Forces (FDS), voluntarily serving the security interests of his village or sector of residence.
VDPs receive 14 days of civic and military training before being armed and provided with means of communication.
They pay a heavy price in the jihadist attacks that regularly strike Burkina Faso, particularly in the north and east.
To date, no data is available on their exact number, even though the initial objective was to recruit 13,000 people.
These massive recruitments are in addition to a one-time recruitment campaign of 3,000 soldiers to bolster the ranks of the army in the fight against jihadists.
These campaigns come after a September 30 coup led by Captain Ibrahim Traore, whose stated aim is to strengthen the anti-jihadist fight.
At least ten soldiers were killed and about 50 wounded Monday in a “terrorist attack” in Djibo, a town under jihadist blockade for three months in northern Burkina.