Islamist terrorists have brought devastation to Burkina Faso. In late 2022 it was estimated that jihadi groups controlled at least 40% of the country. The insurgency had driven around 2 million people from their homes, creating one of the world’s fastest-growing displacement catastrophes.
“We are confronted with a security and humanitarian crisis without precedent,” said Captain Ibrahim Traore when he was sworn in as interim president in October 2022 following an army coup. “Burkina’s existence is in danger.”
The country, where around 60% of the population are Muslim, 30% Christian and 10% followers of African Traditional Religion, was once a bastion of religious tolerance, where people of different religions lived in peace together. That harmony was shattered in 2015 when Muslim extremists in neighbouring Mali and Niger began moving into northern Burkina Faso.
The terrorists carried out relentless attacks on civilians, frequently targeting Christians, church leaders and places of worship. Christians have fled the worst-affected areas, church buildings are closed or destroyed and the few remaining believers worship in secret. Even in areas relatively unscathed by the violence Christians now worship very quietly to avoid drawing attention to themselves and risking attack.
Armed groups are targeting people’s livelihoods, destroying crops and looting cattle, creating widespread food shortages as people move from rural to urban areas. At the end of 2022, more than 600,000 were facing a hunger emergency and 4.9 million were dependent on humanitarian aid. Over 6,000 schools were shut and many thousands of children were without an education. “We have never experienced before what we now experience,” a Christian contact told Barnabas.
Ask the Lord to bring peace to Burkina Faso. Pray for protection for Christians and ask that they stand firm in their hope of Him, knowing He is their Rock and Refuge.