Burkina Faso has seen a sharp rise in Islamist activity since 2016.
Militants linked to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaida, who had been largely contained in neighbouring Mali and Niger, have crossed porous borders in the north to broaden their influence in the Sahel region. Christians have been a primary target of the Islamists’ campaign.
The situation in Burkina Faso continues to worsen. Burkinabe officials claim January was the deadliest month so far.
The attacks have multiplied, taking place simultaneously in different areas. The jihadists are cleansing villages and small towns of people who resist the Sharia law they seek to impose.
In one recent attack, they looked for the families of people helping the government. As the village refused to hand over those families, they started killing people, and more than 12 lost their lives. Other places are depopulated, as all inhabitants decided to move to nearby towns.
One of the biggest cities in the country’s east is now completely encircled by jihadists. No one can enter or leave the city. Many people were able to escape before the town was closed entirely. However, 12,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are inside the city, including around 600 evangelical believers. Jihadists continue their attacks around the city and in its suburbs. They destroy schools, houses, and local markets and chase away or kill people.
Christians are still able to gather for prayer and Bible reading only in the very city centre. Their situation is critical. Our contacts stay connected with them and encourage them through phone calls.
The attacks on the roads continue as well. In a recent incident, the jihadists stopped two public buses; all the men were killed, but women were free to leave the execution site. The buses with all the goods were burnt.
The military is trying to contain the violence, but around 75% of the area is out of their control and they haven’t been able to stop the supplies for jihadists.
The last 400 French soldiers will leave the country this month. They will be replaced by the Wagner group a (Russian paramilitary organisation).
There are 1.88 million IDPs, among them more than 75 thousand Evangelical Christians.