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Joint letter by the World Council of Churches and the ACT Alliance to the President of Burkina Faso

Joint letter by the World Council of Churches and the ACT Alliance to the President of Burkina Faso on developments affecting the security and human rights of many of your people in the country.

06 November 2019

Available also in French.

 

To: H.E. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré
President, Burkina Faso

 

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the World Council of Churches and the ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance, we write out of concern for developments affecting the security and human rights of many of your people, particularly in the Sahel, North, Centre-North and East regions.

We are aware that over the last five years, Burkina Faso has been increasingly afflicted by extremist violence. These violent attacks, though originally targeting the army and the institutions of the State, have increasingly taken on a religiously sectarian character, with a severe impact on civilians.

We are also aware of the appeal made in September 2018 by the Government of Burkina Faso to the international community for assistance in addressing the emergent threat to security and development in the region.

In addition to the deaths of hundreds of people, a spate of kidnappings, and the closure of many schools and churches, this violence has led to a massive and continuous displacement of populations from the affected regions.

According to the latest UN system information, in early October 486,360 internally displaced people were registered, more than twice as many as in July. Since July, the number of people receiving food assistance has doubled to around 735,000. 71 health centres remain closed and 75 others are offering only minimal service, leaving more than 880,000 people without access to health care. According to a revised Humanitarian Response Plan, US$187 million is required for assistance but, as of 29 October, only 37% per cent of the funds had been received.

Our churches and partners are already on the ground assisting the affected communities, and we are exploring ways in which we can scale up our support and accompaniment. We wish to support the Government of Burkina Faso in your efforts to secure the assistance required for both immediate humanitarian needs and for security cooperation in confronting the extremist threat.

In the meantime, we wish to particularly raise an immediate and urgent situation in the vicinity of Kongoussi that has been brought to our attention. The most dramatic attacks in that province took place on 28 September, in a village (Komsilga) about 20 kms from Kongoussi, in which 9 people were killed. The same day, in the afternoon, 9 more people were killed in another village (Deneon) about 27 kms from Kongoussi. That evening people started fleeing from these villages and many others in the area to Kongoussi. The numbers of displaced people continued to grow during the following days, and more than 45,000 IDPs were registered in Kongoussi.

On Sunday 6 October, 2 people were killed in another village (Darbiti) 6 kms closer to Kongoussi. On Sunday October 20, in the evening, 9 more people were killed in a village (Zoura) located only 8 kms from Kongoussi.

According to messages we have received from Rev. Tegwende Leonard Kinda of the Association des églises évangéliques réformées du Burkina Faso - a member of both WCC and ACT Alliance -  a total of 242 people from 32 households, comprising 141 children, 63 adults and 38 elderly people, who fled in the face of this wave of deadly attacks are currently taking refuge in the compound of his church in Kongoussi.

We join in urgently appealing to the Government of Burkina Faso to do its utmost to project a stronger military presence in this region, in order to protect people who are in imminent fear for their lives, against an advancing wave of extremist attacks.

We pray for resolve and wisdom in your efforts to confront this threat to the nation as a whole, to preserve all Burkinabé people from sectarian violence and divisions, to arrest the worsening humanitarian emergency resulting from these attacks, and to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of so many affected people. We join you in calling on the international community to provide the necessary support for your government to rise to these critical challenges.

Yours most sincerely,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General Secretary, World Council of Churches

Rudelmar Bueno de Faria 
General Secretary, ACT Alliance