Image: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

By Katelin van Zyl

On 1 June, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) released its annual report highlighting the world’s most overlooked displacement crises. For 2022, seven out of the 10 crises are in Africa, along with Colombia, Venezuela and El Salvador from Central and South America. Burkina Faso now tops the list for the first time. The ranking is based on three criteria: lack of humanitarian funding, lack of media attention, and a lack of international political and diplomatic initiatives.

World’s most neglected displacement crises 2022:

1. Burkina Faso

2. Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

3. Colombia

4. Sudan

5. Venezuela

6. Burundi

7. Mali

8.  Cameroon

9.  El Salvad0r

10.  Ethiopia

Burkina Faso’s government reported that violence mostly linked to the Islamic State group and al-Qaida has internally displaced more than two million people, leading to a serious humanitarian crisis. Many have fled rural areas and now dwell in congested urban areas and makeshift camps. Women and children make up the majority of the internally displaced. More than a quarter of the population depends on humanitarian aid and approximately 800,000 live in communities blocked off by armed groups without access to the most basic services. Others have crossed the border into neighbouring countries.

According to the NRC, the redirection of attention and aid towards Ukraine has contributed to the greater neglect of some of the most vulnerable people in the world. The NRC Secretary General believes that “Neglect is a choice; that millions of displaced people are cast aside year after year without the support and resources they so desperately need is not inevitable.” The urgency and scale of the response to the war in Ukraine is seen to demonstrate this. “More than five times more articles were written about the Ukrainian displacement crisis last year than about all the world’s 10 most neglected crises in total. For every dollar raised per person in need in Ukraine in 2022, just 25 cents were raised per person in need across the world’s 10 most neglected crises,” according to the NRC.

As believers, we also know that God tells us to not neglect the most vulnerable (such as the poor, the orphan, and the widow) in their suffering, even when it is inconvenient and costly (James 1:27; Matthew 25:35-45; Galatians 2:10; Luke 3:10-11). God’s heart for these groups that can so easily be marginalised is seen throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, God put systems in place to ensure that the Israelites did not neglect the foreigner and others dependent on help (Deuteronomy 14:28-29, for example).

To contribute support to crises that have captured the world’s attention is good because the needs are valid and pressing. However, if you do it to be seen by others, Matthew 6:1-4 tells us that your reward is already obtained on earth. When you give not to impress people, but to please the Father and practice obedience with humility and a pure heart, your Father will reward you in Heaven. Sometimes our giving, going, and praying for these neglected crises may go unnoticed by many, but it may please the Father. Or it may be that our role in not neglecting these nations is to garner greater attention towards these crises so that more people can pray, give, and go as the Lord leads.

The NRC shared a quote from a lady, Halimata (35), whose family fled the fighting in east Burkina Faso and now resides in Kaya: “Tell the world we have suffered. We have suffered a lot. Our neighbours have suffered. Our friends have suffered. Our relatives have suffered. We lost many. Most of them killed. I am thanking God because none of my family was left there, and we are all in safety. I do not want to return, but I am asking God for peace, for peace in this place.”

In a majority-Muslim country (around 55%), Christians make up approximately 21.17% of the population in Burkina Faso. The evangelical growth rate is 4.1%, which is higher than the annual average 2.6%. Despite its historic reputation as a religiously harmonious country, Burkina Faso is becoming a harder place to be a Christian, mostly due to the rise of jihadism and the targeting of Christians. The global Church can uplift the Burkinabé Church, that they would not live in fear or feel discouraged, knowing that the Lord is with them and will never fail or abandon them, even if they feel the world has. (Deuteronomy 31:8-18; Joshua 1:9)

Please pray with us for the following:

  • For the world and especially the global Body of Christ to not overlook the ‘most neglected displacement crises’, including Burkina Faso
  • For the government and national army to gain greater military control and political stability over the country and for order to be restored and peace to reign in Burkina Faso
  • For the Burkinabé Church to be encouraged and strengthened, knowing God is with them and will never leave nor forsake them