CHRISTIANS in the north of Burkina Faso are currently being exterminated or expelled from their villages by Muslim extremists. That is the assessment obtained from sources in the country by Aid to the Church in Need.
The most recent villages to have been abandoned are those of Hitté and Rounga, where the inhabitants were given an ultimatum by the Islamist terrorists, who ordered them to convert to Islam or abandon their homes. A source, who requested anonymity, said: “They are by no means the only ones facing this situation, rather they are just part of a program by the jihadists who are deliberately sowing terror, assassinating members of the Christian communities and forcing the remaining Christians to flee after warning them that they will return in three days’ time—and that they do not wish to find any Christians or catechumens still there.”
The first place to be attacked, towards the end of last May, was the village of Toulfé, where the jihadists murdered five people, including one catechist, wounding another catechist. The source said: “From Touflé the extremists moved on to the town of Babo, where they again delivered a similar ultimatum. Many of the residents fled, while those who remained had to witness the terrorists assassinating three people, including a community leader named Jean-Paul who had chosen to stay on as leader and to organize prayer groups.”
This is what happened in Hitté: “At the beginning of September, 16 men arrived in the village, intercepting the villagers who were returning from the fields. Some of the men forced the people to enter the church where they threatened the Christians and ordered them to leave their homes in the next three days, while others set fire to whatever they found in their path. Now Hitté no longer has any Christians and any catechumens,” ACN’s source confirmed. After that the armed men came to Rounga, which has now similarly been evacuated.
“Almost 2000 people have fled these two villages alone. They have found temporary shelter in a primary school in the village of Ouindigui,” the source said. Another neighbouring village which has been taking in these refugees since the beginning of the wave of violence is Titao, where almost 7000 uprooted victims of the violence have sought refuge. The local Catholic Church is organizing social and pastoral support for these people, including medical care for the sick and the elderly and counselling and psychological help for the traumatized population.
The source continued: “The situation has prompted a spirit of solidarity among the rest of the population in Titao, including the local Muslims, who do not share the radical extremism of the terrorists and who are helping the local Church provide food and water to alleviate the basic needs of the refugees.”
The sources explained that “often the majority of the terrorists are members of the Peul (Fulani) people; however we must not accuse all the Peuls.” What seems clear is that the terrorists are getting support from outside the country. Said the source: “Someone is persuading these people to take up weapons and providing them with weapons to kill their brethren with whom they have lived in peace for years until now. For in fact, although there are a number of foreigners among the terrorists, the majority of them are not foreigners. They are Peuls who have been livingd.” in the region for years. Their families are known to us, and yet, from one day to the next, they have become enemies of the people. They are being manipulated.”
The sources continued: “Weapons like these are not made in Burkina Faso. We know that the arms are supplied by international organizations. We are calling for the removal of these weapons, so that peace can return to Burkina Faso.”
Urging immediate action, the source said: “Peace has to be restored immediately, for, if not, there could well be reprisals. The people know that ‘it was so-and-so who killed my father or my brother.’ It is very difficult. After such barbaric deeds people become deaf to the idea of peace. Besides, these people have lost everything, and their harvests are also going to be lost, which will result in a famine. The situation is critical.”