Catholic Bishops in Burkina Faso Decry Daily “misfortune, distress” in Easter Message

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina-Niger (CEBN)/Credit: Fr. Paul Dah

Catholic Bishops in Burkina Faso have expressed concern about persistent terrorist attacks that have made “misfortune and distress” a daily experience of the people of God in the West African nation.

In their Easter Message shared with ACI Africa Saturday, April 8, members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger (CEBN) point out some of the misfortunes Burkinabe experience, and say, “The Catholic Church cannot remain insensitive to the extent and consequences of the drama in which the people of our country are plunged in.”

“Our sadness and pain are great in the face of this war that is being imposed on us and that brings its share of misfortune and distress every day: loss of human life, forced displacement of populations fleeing war zones and insecurity, closure of many schools, health centers, places of worship, destruction of goods and vital infrastructure,” CEBN members say.

The Catholic Church leaders also say that “psychosocial traumas and the trivialization of human life” are among other misfortunes resulting from terrorist attacks.

Burkina Faso has been at the center of terrorist attacks for some years, occasioned by several major Islamic terrorist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that are reportedly active in the predominantly Muslim nation.


A U.S. Department of State report has indicated that terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso “continued to increase steadily in 2020”, with targets shifting “from military and gendarme units to civilians and volunteer defense forces.”

The report cites the African Center for Strategic Studies, which “noted in its July 21 (2020) report that the majority of violent attacks in the Sahel from July 2019 to June 2020 were in Burkina Faso (516 versus 361 in Mali and 118 in Niger).”

On 11 June 2022, over 100 people were reportedly killed following a terrorist attack in Seytenga in the Province of Seno, located close to Burkina Faso’s border with Niger.

In February this year, 51 soldiers were reportedly killed in an attack on Deou, in the far North of the country.

In March this year, France 24 reported the killing of between 12 and 14 people in Norther Burkina Faso, a region the French news agency described as “battered by jihadist insurgents”.

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Most recently, on April 8, 44 civilians were killed by terrorist groups in two villages in Northeastern Burkina Faso, near the Niger border, France 24 reported. The report further indicated that “31 people died in Kourakou and 13 in Tondobi.”

In their April 8 Easter message, CEBN members lament effects of the attacks, saying, “This ongoing situation of distress can lead to the unfortunate temptation to designate a scapegoat.”

In an attempt to trace factors behind the persistent attacks, they say, “The results of several studies, including those conducted by the Catholic Church in the framework of the Forum on Pastoral Care and Security, reveal that the terrorist phenomenon is favored by several endogenous and exogenous factors.”

As a way forward, the Catholic Church leaders advocate for a collaborate approach that would see “everyone” in the country undertake introspection, and take responsibility to do the right thing.

Burkina Faso, they say, “is living through a crucial period in its history in which the responsibility of each and every one is necessary.”


“The cries of distress, the desperate and urgent appeals that are being made throughout the country to the administrative, political, military, customary and religious authorities are calling out to all of us and urging us to examine our conscience without complacency,” the Catholic Bishops say.

They find it regrettable that “these cries and appeals are all the more dramatic as they come from people or communities made up mostly of young people, women and children representing two thirds of the country's population, and who are in search of models, reference points and symbols.”

The Catholic Church leaders invite the people of God in the West African nation to “remain dignified and confident, without giving in to hatred, revenge, stigmatization of ethnic, regional or religious groups, exclusion, or violence of any kind.”

In the light of the Easter Season characterized by hope in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, CEBN members invite the Burkinabe “to unity, solidarity, consultation and reconciliation between sons and daughters of the same nation, eager to give the best of themselves, in fidelity to the national motto: ‘Unity - Progress – Justice.’”

“Indeed, our internal divisions weaken us, slow down the reconquest of the national territory and prevent us from giving a real impetus to our development without which there can be no lasting peace,” they say.

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CEBN members go on to “congratulate the Defense forces for their patriotism, their sense of responsibility and their determination to reconquer the entire national territory, to secure the population and to work for their return to their localities of origin.”

They urge the government to “resolutely pursue the reforms necessary for more effective and equitable political and economic governance and to create the objective conditions for mobilizing human, economic, financial and material resources in order to ensure a better distribution of wealth for sustainable development for the benefit of all.”

They urge believers and their respective leaders “to join efforts, to strengthen the spirit of dialogue and exchange and to intensify prayers and works of mercy in order to further promote peaceful living together in our country.”

“May the Risen Lord fill you with his joy, his light and his peace, so that you may be witnesses of his victory over evil and death and that you may be artisans of his Kingdom of justice and peace,” Catholic Bishops in Burkina Faso implore in their 2023 Easter Message shared with ACI Africa.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.