BURKINA FASO: CORONAVIRUS LINKED TO INCREASED CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION
Coronavirus-related persecution of Christians continues to grow in Burkina Faso. In February, a pastor and his wife were accused of bringing the Coronavirus into the country after attending a conference in France. Now the nation is one of the hardest hit by the virus in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 600 cases and more than 40 deaths. That is twice as many as the neighboring country of Mali. Now, Voice of the Martyrs Korea is sending aid to persecuted Christians in Burkina Faso to help them through what is shaping up as one of the worst Coronavirus-related humanitarian disasters in Africa.
According to Voice of the Martyrs Korea representative Hyun Sook Foley, while the whole country is suffering, Christians are facing the greatest hardships due to their faith.
“There are four factors that are bringing the Christian community there to the point of grave difficulty,” says Representative Foley.
“First, terrorist attacks by Islamic radicals early in 2020 drove Christians out of their homes. Next, Burkina Faso is experiencing its annual famine period from April through June when there is not enough food left after the rainy season. Most Christians had to flee from their homes before they could gather any crops. Third, the country was then placed under a ‘lockdown’ order due to the Coronavirus. Many Christians have no source of income because they are not allowed to sell goods on the streets or in the markets during the lockdown. And finally, the hygiene situation of the Christian refugees is drastic. Even before the Covid-19 outbreak many of the displaced Christians got infected with cholera because they had to use public toilets which do not meet any hygienic standards. Now, even simple washing of hands is not available for many of these Christians.”
Representative Foley says that there has been little sympathy for the Christians from their fellow citizens because citizens blame Christians for bringing the virus to the country.
“Pastor Mamadou Karambiri and his wife attended a conference in France, where they were exposed to the coronavirus,” says Representative Foley.
“They were tested in France, and the tests revealed they did not have the virus, so they returned home. But then they started having symptoms of the illness, and they were quarantined.”
But Representative Foley says that the country was already facing deep difficulties before the virus arrived.
“The attacks by Islamic militants had created a serious crisis, especially for Christians. Overall, in this nation of 20 million, only 3 percent are Protestant Christians, and they have been overwhelmed by the attacks. But they are not the only ones. Almost 840,000 people in the country have had to leave their homes, and most health centers in rural areas have closed.”
Representative Foley says that adding in the Coronavirus has made the situation even worse.
“In the rest of the world, countries are beginning to get over the Coronavirus, but in sub-Saharan Africa, the virus is still spreading. That is especially true in Burkina Faso. With Christians already homeless and suffering cholera and other illnesses due to lack of medical care, and without the ability to make money through work, this really is a situation where they are absolutely dependent upon help from the body of Christ around the world.”
Voice of the Martyrs Korea is seeking to help raise 50,000 USD in support for Christian refugees in Burkina Faso. So far, Voice of the Martyrs has distributed 100 hand washing units, 100 bags of rice, and 20 boxes of soap to 100 families. Representative Foley says that with the famine likely only halfway through, and with the Coronavirus and anti-Christian sentiment continuing to spread, the need in Burkina Faso is likely to increase dramatically.
Christian refugees in Burkina Faso receive handwashing units, rice, and soap from Voice of the Martyrs.
Individuals interested in supporting families like these can make a donation online at www.vomkorea.com/en/donate or by wire transfer (please indicate “FOM/FOP”) to:
국민은행 (KB Bank) 463501-01-243303
예금주 (Account Holder): (사)순교자의소리