In African countries already plagued by instability, Church leaders expressed concern about increased insecurity.
Catholic clergy in Africa’s northern Sahel region have warned that Islamist insurgents could intensify attacks during the Covid-19 pandemic while police and troops are diverted to civil order duties.
Across the continent, Archbishop Giorgio Bertin, apostolic administrator of Somalia, warned that political instability and constant insecurity will make the Covid-19 fight in the country a very difficult mission.
Fr Constantin Sere, secretary-general of the Catholic aid agency Caritas in Burkina Faso, told Catholic News Service many communities in the country “lack the means to protect themselves against the coronavirus, and we’re operating as widely as we can, raising awareness and supporting the most endangered.
“But the terrorists are still active, and with the security forces deployed enforcing curfews across the affected territories, there’s a danger fewer soldiers will be at the front to combat them.”
In April, attacks by multiple armed groups, some claiming links with al-Qaida and Dash militants, continued attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
Fr Sere said violence was worst in central and northern areas of the landlocked country, adding that the arrival of Covid-19 had “created a situation favouring the terrorists.” He said thousands of families had been prevented from cultivating their fields because of terrorist violence.
“There’s a curfew in the population centres, and this may impede the terrorists, especially at night, but huge numbers will still face hunger after the current rainy season because of the terrorist offensive,” the priest said.
“There are so many insurgent factions, all pursuing their own objectives with no single command structure or united set of ideas. Despite the pandemic, they look set to remain active.”
Picture: A displaced woman and young man are seen at a camp in Pissila, Burkina Faso, on 24th January 2020. (CNS photo/Anne Mimault, Reuters).