Vatican — Pope Francis has urged leaders in Burkina Faso to embrace dialogue and protect the vulnerable civilians in the country.
Speaking at the General Audience in St. Peter's Square on November 13, the pope said he was praying for all those who were killed, wounded, forced to flee, and suffering because of the recurring violence.
"I encourage civil and religious authorities and all those motivated by good will to multiply their efforts, in the spirit of the Abu Dhabi Document on Human Fraternity, to promote interreligious dialogue and harmony," said Pope Francis.
Pope Francis and Egyptian Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar, a leading authority for many Sunni Muslims, signed the Abu Dhabi Document in February, urging Christians and Muslims to respect each other's rights, denounce the use of religion as a motivation for violence and promote dialogue.
More than 1000 people have been killed and nearly 500,000 displaced in Burkina Faso since 2016 in attacks linked to Jihadi extremist groups. The most recent happening on November 6 when unidentified gunmen ambushed five buses carrying 241 workers to a gold mine operated by a Canada-based company. At least 39 people were reported dead initially, but the death toll was expected to rise.
Referring to the recent attack, Francis said his thoughts were with the people of Burkina Faso, which is "suffering from recurring episodes of violence."
In July an agreement was signed between Burkina Faso and the Holy See in which the two parties, although safeguarding the independence and autonomy that are their own, committed to collaborate for the moral, spiritual and material wellbeing of the human person and for the promotion of the common good.