Burkina Faso to recruit 5,000 soldiers to battle jihadists

The country announced a recruitment drive for 5,00 soldiers that will serve in the army for at least five years.

Feb 24, 2023 - 06:55
Burkina Faso to recruit 5,000 soldiers to battle jihadists
Burkina Faso military officials look on while sitting in Ouagadougou on 23 February 2023, ahead of the reburial ceremony of Thomas Sankara's remains alongside his twelve companions, killed on 15 October1987. Picture: OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT/AFP

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso - On Thursday Burkina Fasso announced a recruitment drive for 5,000 soldiers to serve in the army for at least five years to aid the country in its fight against jihadists.

The country was battling a deadly insurgency since 2015.

"An exceptional recruitment of 5,000 non-commissioned soldiers for the national armed forces, to serve for at least five years, in their military region of recruitment, will take place throughout the national territory," Defence Minister Colonel Major Kassoum Coulibaly said in the statement.

The recruitment of young male soldiers will extend from 28 February to 7 March, and enlistees must have been born between 1 January 1988, and 31 December 2003, the minister said.

Of Burkina Faso's 13 regions, those that are hotspots for violence will have higher quotas for recruitment, including the western Boucle du Mouhoun region and the Sahel in the north.

This is the third time in less than a year that the Burkinabe army has organised such a drive. In April 2022, 3,000 soldiers were recruited, with the process launched again in October.

Burkina Faso has been rocked by two coups since the start of 2023, with each new leader accusing the previous of having failed to quell the violence.

In seven years, more than 1,000 civilians and soldiers have been killed, according to NGOs, and some two million people internally displaced.

Captain Ibrahim Traore - the country's transitional president, who staged the most recent coup on 30 September - has set a goal of recapturing 40% of Burkina Faso's territory, which is controlled by jihadist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Shortly after seizing power, he launched a campaign to recruit so-called civilian defence volunteers.