AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - The drama of children left without school, between violence and poverty

Wednesday, 15 July 2020 terrorism   jihadists   children   childhood  

Ouagadougou (Agenzia Fides) - "In the regions of Burkina Faso on the border with Mali and Niger there is no more school, several school buildings have been set on fire, and many teachers murdered. The devastation is the work of terrorist groups that rage in the area", reads a note that Father Marco Prada, priest of the Society of African Missions, sent to Agenzia Fides.
The missionary cites a recent report presented by Virginia Gamba, special representative of the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, for the protection of children living in Countries in conflict.
"We have received numerous reports on attacks on schools, but also on cases of murder and mutilation of children in the north of the country, attributed to terrorist militants of the Islamic State in West Africa or affiliated with Boko Haram", stresses Fr. Gamba referring to the drama that children live in Burkina Faso.
"The consequences of this violence - he continues - are terrible: the education system in the north of the African Country has completely fallen apart for more than a year. There is a strong movement of displaced people, hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing the burning North, and want to go to the south of the country. Furthermore, these children will not be deprived of education only: they risk above all becoming the target of forced recruitment by jihadists, and being employed as child soldiers, as already happens with these extremely violent groups".
Violence has no mercy: in recent days, a group of unidentified armed men killed at least 50 people in Burkina Faso during the attack on a Petabouili village, 50 km from Gorom-Gorom. The victims also include women and children. The Banh region of Burkina Faso has been the scene of terrorist attacks since 2018.
Due to indiscriminate attacks, about one million people have had to leave their homes since 2015. In this scenario, the missionaries are committed to trying to guarantee the right to education for children. According to a recent report by the NGO "Human Rights Watch", the increase in attacks by terrorist groups against teachers, students and schools in Burkina Faso, from 2017 to 2020, had a devastating impact on children's access to education, with 350,000 children deprived of school because of terrorism. The most useful tool to combat jihadist formations - the religious note - is education, given that the values transmitted in teaching are based on respect for human rights and on building social and inter-religious coexistence. (MP/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 15/7/2020)