“Our focus is to turn the spotlight on the Sahel. Because, even if the same tragedies are happening here as elsewhere, we have the impression that the Sahel is a little forgotten,” said Alexandre Bazié, the auxiliary Bishop of Koudougou and President of the Justice and Peace Episcopal Commission in Burkina Faso. Bishop Bazié is also the head of the regional working group of the The Paix au Sahel initiative (The Sahel Peace Initiative). He made the remarks during the workshop held in Ouagadougou, last week.
Insecurity negatively impacts the school children
In Burkina Faso, nearly a million children are not in school because of insecurity
Focusing on the theme “Impacting strategies, organisation and commitment of strategic players,” the workshop is part of a forum planned to be held in Rome in June 2024 under the auspices of the Holy See.
Participants in the Burkina Faso meeting came from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, the United States of America and Burkina Faso itself. Bishop Bazié indicated that expectations from the event include “improving the humanitarian response, improving the mobilisation for resources that would encourage a return to peace, strengthening community resilience and cohesion.”
At the end of the proceedings, Jennifer Overton, regional representative of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), expressed her satisfaction. She declared that “this workshop was productive” and had given her “a lot of hope”.
Search for solutions to instability in Africa
The Paix au Sahel initiative is a response from the Catholic Bishops of the region to the crisis in the Sahel.
The initiative is a vehicle launched in November 2019 in Ouagadougou by the region’s Bishops. The prelates of the region want to provide a concrete response to the crisis in the Sahel, in the face of unrelenting terrorist attacks and unprecedented violence.
An initiative that can inspire peace
It is also the Church’s way of contributing to the building of nations that desire peace and cohesion. According to Bishop Bazié, the initiative also aims at preventing the populations from being perceived “only as poor victims lying by the roadside begging for favours from the world.” Instead, the people of the region want to assert themselves as “the Good Samaritan who assumes responsibility for his wounded brothers fallen by the wayside.”
Through the Paix au Sahel initiative, the Bishops hope other actors will be inspired and join hands to end the violence and terrorism.