Burkina Faso chaplains overwhelmed in task of supporting troops

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - The under-resourced military chaplains of Burkina Faso are struggling to provide adequate support to government troops fighting the onslaught of Islamic extremist violence against this previously peaceful West African nation, Associated Press reports.

Islamic State and al Qaeda turned their attention to Burkina Faso in 2016, and the military has found itself ill-equipped to deal with the scope of sustained attacks by the terrorists against the country. A symptom of the devastation wrought by the terrorists has been heightened stress among soldiers, and the chaplains assigned to them have had a spike in calls for counseling.

Salomon Tibiri, a chaplain for 15 years and currently assigned to the military church camp in the city of Kaya, said: “Before the crisis, there was more stability. Now (the soldiers) are busier, and when you approach them you feel their stress — much more stress.”

According to the Associated Press, which conducted interviews in the Center-North and in the capital Ouagadougou, a mere seven chaplains from Protestant, Catholic, and Muslim faiths are in charge of providing spiritual support to 11,000 soldiers. Moreover, the assistance they give has to be by phone and prayer services because there are insufficient resources to embed chaplains with the troops.

The issue is of major concern as troops are at greater risk of post-traumatic disorder, which can even lead them into criminality. Noel Henri Zongo, a Catholic chaplain told AP: “[The soldiers] face death every day. ... At this moment they also need to have much more spiritual help.”