20 February 2020, The Tablet

Burkina Faso consecrated to Immaculate Heart



Burkina Faso consecrated to Immaculate Heart

A displaced woman in Dablo, Burkina Faso, looks on while she waits for help March 1, 2019.
CNS/Luc Gnago, Reuters

As terrorist attacks continue in Burkina Faso, the country has been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Thousands of Christians from the 17 dioceses of Burkina Faso and Niger, along with 8 Bishops from both countries, prayed for Mary’s intercession in Yagma Sanctuary, Ouagadougou.

The consecration on 2 February, a direct response to the rising levels of religious violence in the country, was, according to the head of the joint Burkina Faso-Niger bishop’s conference, “an act of trust, faith and hope that...God will give us victory over evil”.

At the Sanctuary, a popular Marian shrine, the Archbishop of Ouagadougou, Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo, issued an appeal to members of terrorist groups.
“Let those who take up arms and explosives lay them down and stop killing their brothers,” Ouédraogo said.

According to the UN, almost 4,000 people were murdered in islamist attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger last year. In the wider region where the three nations are located, known as “The Sahel” more than 2,200 terrorist attacks have taken the deaths of 11,500 people in the last four years.
 
Burkina Faso is a majority Muslim country, with 60 per cent of the population following Islam, compared to a quarter for Christianity. In the north of the country, violence against Christians has become common, with the most recent attack, on 14 of February, taking the lives of 24 Christians at a Protestant Sunday service in Pansi, Yagha province. 

Since 2015, around 600,000 people have been forced from their homes in the small West African country. On 1 February  at least 20 people were killed in the village of Bani, in the north of the country. On the 10 of February, seven christians including a pastor were kidnapped from the town of Sebba, close to Pansi. Five of the victims were murdered and discovered on the 13, with two released unharmed. 

Burkina Faso is one of the world’s poorest countries, and the spate of terror attacks in recent years has further destabilised the fragile infrastructure of the country. According to the Red Cross, 1.2 million people face famine there, and half a million lack basic healthcare due to terror attacks closing healthcare centres. Islamist groups have capitalised on rural poverty and alienation from central government to organise a campaign of kidnappings and opportunistic killings against aid workers, religious minorities, and government forces. 

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