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Security Forces in Burkina Faso, Niger Urged to Work Toward Restoring Previous Optimism

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

Catholic Bishops in Burkina Faso and Niger are urging security forces operating in the region to work toward restoring the optimism that had characterized the West African nation of Burkina Faso before the Solhan village massacre.

In a statement issued at the end of their plenary assembly, members of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina-Niger (CEBN) “condemn without appeal” the June 5 attack on Solhan village in the Northern part of Burkina Faso that left at least 160 people dead, and  call on national and international security agencies to do more to prevent such loss of lives.

“We encourage the defence and security forces, with the help of all, to be more determined in restoring peace in the zones of insecurity,” members of CEBN say in their June 12 statement.

The security forces had made “considerable efforts”, the Bishops say and add, “The tragic event in Solhan, which has put us in a state of shock, shows terrorism kills the optimism that was beginning to be reborn among the people.”

“The night of horror in Solhan shows the terrorist specter is becoming more and more threatening for a population that is surrounded by both national and foreign military bases,” they further say.

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Making reference to the June 5 attack, the Catholic Bishops in the two-nation conference add, “This has left the population in a state of great perplexity, with alarming prospects of unprecedented distress for the displaced in this early winter period.”

According to the Bishops, the people of God in Burkina Faso are questioning why there is heavy presence of both local and international security and heightened insecurity. 

“Naturally, questions are being asked about the interest of the presence of so many foreign forces on our territories when the hope of the fruits increasingly disappoints the promise of the flowers,” they say, and add, “This observation is a great concern of the populations; a concern that we share.”

“When will the end of the tunnel come?” CEBN members further pose.

In their collective statement, the Catholic Bishops in Burkina Faso and Niger express their spiritual solidarity with the victims of the June 5 attack, and offer prayers for the repose of the souls of the deceased and comfort of the other victims.

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On June 8, Burkina Faso’s Cardinal launched a renewed call for prayers in solidarity with victims of the Solhan attack. 

“Our country, Burkina Faso, has once again suffered a tragic attack in Solhan … in the Yagha region of the Sahel.  In the name of our Church Family of God, we offer our sincere condolences to the bereaved families and entrust to the Lord’s mercy the victims of Solhan and all the victims of terrorist attacks, both civilian and military, in our country,” Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo said.

The Archbishop of Ouagadougou added, “To show our solidarity with all the victims, whatever their religious or ethnic affiliation, and with those populations traumatized by acts of violence, we launch a renewed call to prayer throughout the territory of the Archdiocese of Ouagadougou.”