BURKINA FASO: Overcoming hatred with help for all

Construction of a multipurpose hall in Kaya diocese, Burkina Faso (©Aid to the Church in Need)
Construction of a multipurpose hall in Kaya diocese, Burkina Faso (©Aid to the Church in Need)
  • ACN project head warns of growing Islamist influence from abroad
  • Praises Church’s outreach to the poor regardless of religious differences

In the aftermath of this month’s Islamist attack on restaurant goers in Burkina Faso, it is crucial that the Church renew its commitment to poor people – especially young girls – at a time of growing extremist influence in the country.

Raphael D’Aqui, from Aid to the Church in Need, said that Catholic outreach in education, healthcare and other welfare support – supported in part by the Catholic charity – was vital in a country coming under growing influence from countries promoting Islamism.

Mr D’Aqui, head of ACN projects for parts of Africa, was speaking after suspected Islamist militants killed at least 18 people and wounded several others during a raid 10 days ago on a restaurant in Ouagadougou, the capital of the West African country.

Mr D’Aqui contrasted the Church’s “powerful spirit of service and a desire to be of help to all society” against “the catastrophe of terrorism, a plague that is so difficult to eradicate”.

Highlighting Islamic countries’ investment in Burkina Faso and other less prosperous countries, Mr D’Aqui said: “In a country in which approximately 60 percent of the population is Muslim, the influence of the Islamic countries is considerable.

“There are NGOs here from Qatar, Kuwait and other countries which – together with the social help they [provide] – are exporting their own ideology and their own interpretation of the Qur’an.”

“They are prepared to bore wells, build mosques and help the poor, but they focus their aid exclusively on Muslims.”

He said that, by contrast, the Church was providing care for people of different faiths.

Saying that the aid extends to the north of the country, where Christians are less than one percent of the population, he added: “In the field of healthcare and education, thanks to the various religious congregations which are working here, the Church is providing a service for the whole of society… not merely for the Christians.”

Mr D’Aqui said: “The Church maintains important education centres for young children, with a special care for the poorest and for girls.”

ACN is supporting religious Sisters providing medical care in Burkina Faso irrespective of faith background and helping the Church’s pastoral work such as the construction of a parish church and multi-purpose centre in the Diocese of Tenkodogo and also a new chapel in Arbinda parish, in the Diocese of Dori.