According to recent statistics, since the beginning of 2019, a total of 238 armed attacks have been reported in Burkina Faso, transforming the African country in the epicenter of the Sahel’s security crisis.
COMECE calls the EU to support the country’s authorities, as well as Churches and religious communities, to prevent clashes and conflicts and enhance mutual respect.
About one-third of the country is engulfed in fighting among multiple non-state armed groups and no longer accessible to humanitarian workers. Over 1000 people, mostly civilians, resulted victims of the ongoing violence since the beginning of 2019.
The situation looks extremely dangerous also for the local Christian communities who, according to various NGOs and media, are often targeted by Islamist militants, who deliberately attack Churches and worshippers.
Already in July 2019, H. E. Mgr. Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré, Bishop of Dori, called for a ban on weapons to jihadist groups and a halt to outside support for jihadists who are murdering Christians.
“If the world continues to do nothing – he stated –the result will be the elimination of the Christian presence in this area and quite possibly, in the future, from the entire country”.
During the Inter-Conferences Workshop on Security in the Sahel, held in Ouagadougouon 12-13 November 2019, Catholic Bishops and Delegates of Episcopal Conferences of the Sahel region highlighted that among other factors, “poverty, ignorance, poor governance, corruption, radicalization and religious intolerance, the predation of natural resources”are fueling the Sahel crisis, and called the international community to take action.
On Thursday 19 December 2019 the European Parliament adopted a resolution to “strongly condemn any form of violence, intimidation and kidnapping of civilians, aimed at security services, religious sites and worshippers in Burkina Faso, in particular violence targeting specific religious communities, and the political instrumentalisation and misuse of religion to legitimise the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities”.
In this context, COMECE calls the EU and its Member States to support Burkina Faso and its authorities in the fight against the root causes of the ongoing violence, to prosecute the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, and to back Burkinabé society and institutions, including Churches and religious communities, to prevent clashes and conflicts and enhance mutual respect.