Their faces radiant with joy, children dressed in white dance and sing, clap their hands and pray to God. In Kaya, a provincial capital in Burkina Faso, nothing can overshadow the joy of celebrating First Holy Communion. For a brief moment, the children can forget the horrors they have experienced and the difficulties they face day after day. “The children are originally from Dablo. They came here fleeing from terrorism. But it was COVID-19 that forced us to postpone all of the celebrations that had been planned for the reception of the Sacrament of the First Eucharist,” the priest, Father Gabriel Bamogo, explained to the pontifical foundation ACN International, which provides aid to Christians in Burkina Faso. “Now everyone is giving thanks to the Lord for the joy and the mercy that He gave to them through the Sacrament.”

First terrorism, then COVID-19: Burkina Faso, a country located in the western part of Africa, has taken a battering. Once an oasis of stability and internal peace, since 2015 the country has been drifting ever further into chaos. Jihadists and criminal gangs are inflicting violence upon large parts of the predominantly Muslim country. The motives behind this are manifold: in the multi-ethnic state, rancor arising from the neglect of entire regions by the government has come together with ethnic rivalries and Islamic fanaticism. Jihadists would like to establish a new caliphate. Criminals are taking advantage of the chaos to serve their own purposes. The drug and arms trade is flourishing. In spite of support from France, the former colonial power, the government has failed to gain control of the situation. Almost one million people have become refugees in their own country – bleak prospects for the people living in one of the poorest countries in the world. Christians, who make up about thirty percent of the population, are also targeted by terrorism. Tens of thousands have fled from the regions that are under attack by terrorists. Many have sought refuge in the diocese of Kaya.

Children receiving the Sacrament of the First Eucharist talk with ACN International about their faith in Jesus.

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