Burkina Faso was long considered an example of peaceful coexistence between religions. In this country in western Africa, just over 60% of the 20 million inhabitants are Muslims, while around a quarter of the population are Christians. Since 2019, however, the country has been a hotspot of jihadist violence, which is mainly directed against Christians and Church institutions. The coronavirus pandemic is further exacerbating the crisis for the local Church. ACN supported Burkina Faso in 2020 with numerous aid projects from which many believers are drawing new hope.
Jihadist aggression particularly affects those parts of the country located in the north, east and Sahel area. The “warriors of God” plan to establish a caliphate here. Since 2019, almost one million people have been displaced from these areas. Thousands of internally displaced persons remain in the few villages that are still populated.
We witnessed the jihadists killing without mercy.Etienne, 14-year-old refugee
The situation is also desolate for the children. More than 1,000 schools have now been closed or destroyed. Children run the risk of being forcibly recruited as child soldiers. Fortunately, despite terrorist threats, the parliamentary and presidential elections in November were largely peaceful.
The coronavirus pandemic represents an additional burden for the population of Burkina Faso. Our project partners describe the virus as “a disaster in the midst of disaster”. The Church is also affected.
At St Peter and Paul Seminary in Ouagadougou, one of the professors died of Covid-19 and four trainee priests also fell ill with the virus. The young men studying there mostly come from families who had to flee as a result of jihadist terrorist attacks.
ACN supported the seminarians and their families with existential help and supported them by funding the provision of protective materials against the coronavirus. ACN also supported the expansion of the Catholic radio in Burkina Faso.
Terrorism claims even more victims than Covid-19.Priest of the Diocese of Kaya
Especially in crisis zones, radio is an important tool for proclamation of the faith, information and advice. The coronavirus crisis has reinforced the importance of radio. ACN also sent existential help to priests and nuns assisting the population and supported displaced catechists and their families who play an important role in pastoral care.