With a country ranked half in "red zone" by the Quai d'Orsay, most of the 3,000 French have changed their habits.
Reinforced concrete walls, windows and armored doors, armed vigilantes on the watch. Welcome to the newly renovated French Institute of Ouagadougou. At the entrance, bags are searched and metal detectors are required. "It's painful, but we are used now"slips a 52-year-old Frenchwoman, once the airlock of the entrance past. "It reassures yes, but at the same time it reminds us that this place is a potential target"adds this teacher, who has been living in Burkina Faso for fifteen years.
On March 2, 2018, the cultural center narrowly escaped the double attack on the embassy of France and the staff of the Burkinabe armies, located a few tens of meters away. This major attack, claimed by the jihadist organization Support Group to Islam and Muslims (GSIM), had killed eight Burkinabe military and more than 85 wounded. That day, the windows and a false ceiling of the French Institute had been blown by the explosion of the car bomb. "We were stunned and we had to review the entire security system"says a center employee, who has just reopened after a little over a year of heavy work.
Since then, the security situation has worsened in Burkina Faso, long spared by the terrorist threat. In just over a year, the crisis and support center of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs even had to update its risk assessment card four times, classifying as "red zone" almost half of the territory. The risk of kidnapping Westerners and the fear of new attacks seriously worry the Quai d'Orsay. So, in Ouagadougou, capital three times bruised by attacks over the last three years, anxiety is rising among the 3,000 residents of the French community.
"You have to be ready just in case"
In a neighborhood close to the city center, Jean-Bernard Bugnazet runs a small restaurant at the end of a red dirt track. "Do you see this fountain? Look carefully ! ", he says, before pressing a hidden switch. When the water stops flowing, it climbs the antiskid steps of the plant and climbs a wall of almost three meters high. "It's an emergency exit," he says, demonstration in support. Add a "Containment room" and a nearby mirador, "In case of attack". «After the bombing of the Radisson Blu hotel (November 20, 2015, in Bamako, Mali)I felt that it was going to happen here in Burkina. Do not dive into psychosis, but you have to be ready in case »explains the Ardéchois who runs this inn, very popular with expatriates.