West African Bishops commit to ending violence in their countries

The Bishops, Priests and Lay delegates of the Bishops’ Conferences of Burkina-Niger, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have reaffirmed their commitment to work with all people of good will to put an end to the killings and the displacement of people in their countries.

This was contained in a communique released at the end of a meeting of the delegates in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on November 12 and 13, 2019 to prayerfully reflect on the extent of security and humanitarian crisis and to seek together ways to contribute to the efforts already made to help the affected population.

According to the communique, the crisis, which has been on-going for some years in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger is manifested mainly in the daily violations of the fundamental rights of the human person; violation of the right to life characterized by the massacres of populations, violation of the right to religious freedom resulting in attacks on places of worship, targeted attacks aimed at religious leaders or members of particular religious denominations, the violation of the right to education for all resulting in the closure of schools, the violation of the right to property, among others.

The crisis is purported to be rooted in a variety of causes ranging from historical, cultural, religious, economic, territorial, ideological, political, among others,

The delegates used the opportunity to passionately appeal to the perpetrators of the attacks and massacres to put an end to the practice and respect the right to life and dignity of every person. They further urged public authorities, to make the protection of people their priority and to promote good governance through the fight against corruption and the just distribution of state resources.

The message also called on religious communities to educate their members on the respect for human life and to preserve religious freedom through the promotion of interreligious dialogue.

While appreciating the many initiatives taken by states, the international community and civil society organizations among others to relieve the suffering of the people, the delegates urged them to put an end to unfair agreements that undermine the development of States and to promote true and respectful partnership.

Sister Episcopal Conferences in the region were also called upon to [hear] urgently and positively respond to the cry of the poorest and most vulnerable for assistance; and to be more proactively engaged in [by awareness-raising] advocacy for the protection of life and the defense of human dignity in countries affected by conflict.

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