AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - The Bishops: "We need to tackle the issue of internally displaced people to avoid new tensions"

Friday, 19 February 2021 displaced persons   bishops   jihadists   dialogue  

Ouagadougou (Agenzia Fides) - "The security situation remains worrying in various areas, despite a relative calm" the Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger affirm in the final communiqué of their second Plenary Assembly for the year 2020-2021, in the context of which they emphasize in particular the unresolved question of internally displaced persons which risks creating further tensions, given "the still high number of internally displaced persons whose coexistence with those who received them is not always easy". According to the Bishops, despite the promises of governments, "the reality on the ground shows that the populations really need to be reassured and to feel protected by the competent authorities".
In Burkina Faso and Niger, more than half a million people have left their homes due to the insecurity associated with the terrorist attacks. The attacks perpetrated by terrorist groups, which claim to be Al-Qaeda or the so-called "Islamic State", are continuous. Yesterday, February 18, at least 18 people were killed in various attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso. The attack on Burkina Faso took place in the morning between the towns of Markoye and Tokabangou, where people were ambushed on their way to Dolbel, Niger. Eight people died and nine others were injured, one of whom died as a result of the injuries.
To allow for easier coexistence between internally displaced populations and the indigenous populations of the reception areas, the Bishops recommend "a strengthening of dialogue in general and an awareness campaign on coexistence involving various leaders".
It is also necessary "to work to control the issue of stigmatization, especially in areas marked by insecurity in which the resumption of activities is gradually taking place". To do this, "they invite the populations to a frank collaboration with the defense and security forces, and the faithful to continue praying. for peace in Burkina Faso and Niger". Among the stigmatized populations are the Peuls shepherds, considered as allies with the jihadist groups which rage throughout the Sahelian belt.
During their work, the Bishops received a visit from the Grand Iman of Fada, Aboubacar Kina, who asked the Assembly of Bishops to pray for peace and social cohesion in Burkina Faso. He also stressed the good interreligious relations between Christian and Muslim communities since the 1960s. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 19/2/2021)