KENYA: Cardinal Ouédraogo Urges Governments to Stop Arms Trade, Curb Terrorism in Sahel Region

NAIROBI, MARCH 13, 2020 (CISA)-Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo, President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has appealed to governments of Western Africa to stop arms trade in Africa in a bid to end terrorist attacks in Sahel Region.

“I would like to call on the Western nations to stop arms trade in Africa … It is these weapons that allow jihadist groups to kill innocent populations. There are no weapons factories, no arms factories in Burkina Faso. Even in Africa, these are very few. Where do these weapons come from? Who is funding them? Who finances the guns? Who pays for all these weapons and who organises all these killings?” he posed.

Cardinal Ouédraogo who spoke on the sidelines of SECAM’s Standing Committee meeting in Nairobi, said that Interreligious dialogue and Western nations stopping arms shipments to Africa would go a long way in resolving insecurity concerns in the troubled Sahel region.

“Interreligious dialogue holds a special place in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel. It is a major pivot in resolving terrorists’ attacks in the Sahel region in particular and Africa in general,” said Cardinal Ouédraogo.

Africa’s Sahel region consisting Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Chad have been suffering recurrent terrorist attacks by jihadist groups.

According to Cardinal Ouédraogo, the interreligious dialogue will concentrate on pastoral work where different religious groups; Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, the traditional African religions come together to reflect on the issues of terrorism.

“We try to put a lot of emphasis on internal and external solidarity at the local, regional and international level, and as a local proverb says, ‘one finger doesn’t pick up flour.’ It takes more than one finger to pick up flour. Hence the need to join forces. Both internally and externally,” he added.

While reaffirming the Church’s presence for interreligious dialogue, Cardinal Ouédraogo believes that different faiths can co-exist and work together towards a solution in the Sahel region.

“It is together that we try to work, to manifest our unity. To work together for our living together, in mutual respect, in mutual listening,” he stressed.

Religious leaders have continuously expressed concerns on security issues of the African Sahel region. In November 2019, the Bishops convened the first-ever Inter-Conference Workshop that brought together Catholic prelates and clerics to discuss ways of ending the violence on Christians.

The Sahel region, which encompasses Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan and Eritrea has faced rampant violence. It has been a favorable ground for the survival of extremist groups.