Almost a quarter of the people in Burkina Faso are Christians – 5 million from a population of 21.5 million.
Burkina Faso is located in a region where Islamist groups have a huge and growing influence. The central government is very weak, particular in the east of the country where Islamic law is informally implemented by groups who've gained control over these areas. Jihadist violence has been rapidly increasing in recent years, and extremists have exploited the government's weakness during the COVID-19 crisis to gain control of the country’s infrastructure. This has led to hundreds of church closures—while many Christians are among those who've fled their homes because of extremist attacks. There are over 1 million internally displaced people in Burkina Faso, many of whom are Christians.
Believers who've converted from Islam face the most persecution. Family and community members often reject them and try to force them to renounce their Christian faith. Many are afraid to express their faith in public because of such threats.
While extremist attacks target all Christians, those who've converted from Islam face additional persecution from their families and communities. Christians in the north and east of the country experience most pressure and violence, particularly outside the main cities. In the west of the country, ethno-religious groups also put pressure on Christians.
Salamata is a teenager, her church was looted and burned down by jihadists, who then killed all the men. She attended Open Doors trauma care.
“They told us we deserved what happened to us because the jihadists told us to stop making noise."Salamata
The persecution of Christians in Burkina Faso has worsened slightly over the past year. This is largely due to an increase in reported incidents of violence, which reflects the growing influence of Islamic extremist groups in the country.
Open Doors works through local partners to strengthen Christians in Burkina Faso by providing persecution survival training, relief aid, and spiritual and trauma care.
Dear Father, we join the cry of Burkina Faso's Christians and ask You to intervene in this volatile country. Please halt the stream of violence in the country. Protect Your sons and daughters, so that they can worship You without fear. Please heal those who are suffering trauma, and comfort those who mourn. Amen.