AFRICA/BENIN - Insecurity and climate change endanger social peace: bishops express concern

Friday, 28 October 2022 jihadists   floods   bishops  

Cotonou (Agenzia Fides) - "Thefts, robberies, vandalism are the order of the day. We ask for urgent measures to ensure the safety of our citizens", said the Bishops of Benin at the end of their Plenary Assembly held from 16 to 19 October in Dassa-Zoumé.
"In addition to ordinary crimes," the bishops said, "there are also alarming situations of insecurity that lead to loss of life". The bishops are thus making a clear allusion to the jihadist infiltrations from neighboring countries, which are also leading to violence and instability in Benin. The jihadists from Burkina Faso have multiplied their attacks in recent months, particularly in the Atakora department. Concern is high because the north of the country is already weakened by community tensions, climate change and controversial management of natural areas, making it an ideal breeding ground for armed groups.
In recent years, the main jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State have attempted to penetrate the border areas of the West African coastal states. The increase in attacks in the northern regions of Côte d'Ivoire, Togo and especially Benin is clear evidence of this and could be part of a broader strategy of regional repositioning. The bishops are therefore calling for the population to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies "so that peace and tranquility prevail in our country, which are guarantees for any development".
The Bishops' Conference also "expresses its deepest sympathy for the population affected by the recent floods that have caused serious damage in different parts of the country". At least 40 communities were affected by the heavy rains in early October, with 16 suffering very severe damage.
The climatic changes, which are particularly affecting northern Benin and which continue to worsen the living conditions in this area, the poorest in the country, can indirectly increase
the adhesion of young men to jihadist groups and tensions between local communities over access to water, fertile land and grazing land. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 28/10/2022)