World Food Programme warns humanitarian crisis looms in Burkina Faso as Christians and others flee extremist violence
Displaced Christians who have fled intensifying Islamist extremist attacks in Burkina Faso are in the midst of a humanitarian emergency, as the World Food Programme (WFP) warns the region is facing a severe food crisis.
The WFP activated its highest level of response in the central Sahel region on 9 September for countries including Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Its report stated that escalating conflict, together with a seasonal drought that began in June, has left over 5.1 million people in the Sahel countries in dire need of aid. The UN reported on 27 June that 4.2 million people are displaced across the Sahel.
In September, Islamist extremists stated their intention to eliminate Christianity from the central region of Burkina Faso, warning Christians to “Flee, convert or die”. Five murderous attacks followed from 21 September, taking 41 lives, including an elderly Christian man and four of his sons and causing thousands to flee area to the provincial capital, Koungoussi.
Earlier in 2019, at least 56 Christians were murdered in a series of seven extremist attacks between April and June in northern Burkina Faso. The rampage began in Silgadji on 28 April when a pastor, his son and four members of his congregation were shot one by one when they refused to convert to Islam.
Six Christians were killed at a church in Dablo on 12 May and a further four lost their lives the following day during a Christian parade in Zimtenga. Four Christians were murdered in an attack on a church in Toulfe on 26 May. Twin attacks in Arbinda and in nearby Namentenga province on 9 and 10 June saw another 29 killed. On 27 June, in Bani, seven people were searched and identified as Christians before being shot while others were allowed to go free.