Burkina Faso to Recruit 5,000 Soldiers to Battle Jihadists

Burkina Faso announced Thursday 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, one of the world’s poorest, has been 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,” Defense Minister Colonel Major Kassoum Coulibaly said in the statement.

The recruitment of young male soldiers will extend from February 28 to March 7, and enlistees must have been born between January 1, 1988, and December 31, 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 organized 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 the year, 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 September 30 — has set a goal of recapturing 40 percent 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 defense volunteers.

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