AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - Refugees: "Staying or emigrating is no longer a choice" says the Bishop of Koudougou

Tuesday, 26 September 2023 refugees   displaced persons   local churches  

Ouagadougou (Agenzia Fides) - "Today we see that staying or emigrating is often no longer a choice, especially leaving has become a necessity," says Msgr. Joachim Hermenegilde Ouédraogo, Bishop of Koudougou, President of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees of Burkina Faso and Niger, on the occasion of the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, celebrated for the fifth time in Burkina Faso last Sunday, September 24th. This year the central celebration took place in the parish of Saint Jean-Marie Vianney de Tampouy in Ouagadougou. "Emigration should be a free decision. People must be able to choose whether they want to leave or stay, because the country belongs to everyone. So I should be free to decide whether I go to another country or stay in my country ", said Msgr. Ouédraogo. "We see that staying or emigrating is often no longer a choice," continued the Bishop of Koudougou, "especially leaving has become a necessity." "Women and men are forced to flee their homeland because they live in situations that do not allow them to develop in their country," he stressed, referring to the many internally displaced people in Burkina Faso due to the violence of jihadist groups, who are active not only in Burkina Faso but also in other countries in the Sahel region. In his homily, Monsignor Ouédraogo called on the Catholic faithful to work for peaceful coexistence and to show solidarity with people in need. To this end, on the occasion of World Refugee Day, a communal meal and the distribution of rice bags worth two million CFA francs were organized for the benefit of 100 internally displaced families. According to the latest data from the UN Humanitarian Coordination Office, one in five citizens, or 4.7 million people rely on humanitarian aid. There are approximately 2 million internally displaced people, 52% of whom are children. One million students are affected by the closure of schools. Most internally displaced people come from the Sahel, the central region and the north of the country. They have moved to safer reception centers, but often live in precarious conditions. Despite this situation, Burkina Faso has welcomed more than 36,000 refugees, mostly from Mali. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 26/9/2023)