OVERVIEW: Burkina Faso has seen a sharp rise in Islamist activity since 2016. Militants linked to ISIS and al-Qaida, who had been largely contained in neighboring 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 jihadists’ campaign since April 2019, when approximately 70 Christians were killed and five churches were attacked.
More than 200 churches have reportedly closed in northern and eastern Burkina Faso due to security issues and threat of attack.
As many as 10,000 Christians have fled their homes as a result of violence and threats against Christians. Nearly 8000,000 people in total have been displaced by the conflict, adding to an already strained economy amid political uncertainty.
MAJOR RELIGION: Just over half Burkinabe are Muslims.
PERSECUTOR: The main persecutors are Islamists linked to the al-Qaida and ISIS terrorist groups.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN BURKINA FASO: Large churches in the capital city operate openly, and until recently even Christians living among Muslims in some villages had freedom to practice their faith. However, attacks against Christians increased dramatically in 2019. Today, few Christians remain in the north or east of the country.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: Bibles in French and the Moore language are readily available in the capital city, but few Bibles are available in local language. Distribution is difficult because of security issues in the countryside. The literacy rate is less than 35 percent nationwide, and most people would prefer a Bible in a local language such as Fulani.
VOM WORK: VOM is supporting the families of pastors martyred by terrorist groups linked to al-Qaida and ISIS. VOM is also providing aid to numerous displaced Christians who have fled recurring attacks in the northern part of the country.