AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - "What are foreign military bases in the Sahel for?" ask the Bishops after the Solhan massacre

Monday, 14 June 2021 bishops   massacres  

Ouagadougou (Agenzia Fides) - Burkina Faso is in shock due to the massacre in Solhan, the village in the north-east of the country attacked in the night between 4 and 5 June, in which at least 160 people were killed (see Fides, 7/6/2021), the Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger say in a statement published at the end of their second Plenary Assembly. "There is no doubt that considerable efforts are being made in the fight against terrorism and we must congratulate all parties concerned, in particular the defense and security forces. However, the tragic event in Solhan shocked us and makes the terrorist hydra appear in a light that kills the optimism that was beginning to revive among the populations", say the Bishops in the document sent to Agenzia Fides. At the opening of the Assembly, Cardinal Philippe Ouedraogo, Archbishop of Ouagadougou, expressed the condolences of the Bishops' Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger to the victims of the massacre (see Fides, 10/6/2021). In the note, the Bishops ask themselves whether the presence of foreign military bases in the Sahel countries contributes to strengthening the security of local populations or not. "The night of horror of Solhan shows that the terrorist specter is becoming more and more threatening for a population yet surrounded by military bases, national and foreign. This creates a strong perplexity among the populations, with an alarming prospect of immeasurable difficulties for the displaced in this period of early winter", the Bishops write, referring to the Sahelian dry season, called "winter".
"Naturally, we wonder about the value of the presence of so many foreign forces on our territories, because the hope of fruits increasingly disappoints the promise of flowers. This observation is of great concern to the populations; a concern that we share. When will the end of the tunnel come?" ask the Bishops. On June 12, thousands of people gathered in Dori, in northern Burkina Faso, to denounce the "inertia" of the authorities after the massacre in Solhan (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 14/6/2021)