Burkina Faso + 1 more

World Relief responds to crisis in Burkina Faso

BALTIMORE, February 12, 2003 - All recent attempts at peace in Cote d'Ivoire have failed. The UN has pulled non-essential staff of the country, and more French troops have been deployed to protect French nationals in Ivory Coast. As a result of this civil unrest, a massive influx of people seeking refuge is heading into Burkina Faso. World Relief is mobilizing a network of churches and Christian organizations in response to the growing humanitarian need.
An estimated 3 million Burkinabes were living or working in Ivory Coast when the fighting broke out last September. The conflict caused Cote d'Ivoire's once prosperous economy to collapse, and many blame Burkinabes.

"There are reports that Burkinabes-many of whom have lived in Ivory Coast for generations-are being persecuted and killed," said World Relief Burkina Faso Representative John Scicchitano.

Because the inflow of people into Burkina Faso will strain the country's meager resources and could create public health hazards, Burkina Faso's Minister of Social Action and National Solidarity, Mariam Lamizana, officially requested World Relief's help.

World Relief provides training on HIV/AIDS prevention and care to churches, schools and other organizations in Burkina Faso. The grassroots organizations are now rallying to meet families fleeing Cote d'Ivoire. World Relief is providing support so that these organizations can distribute refugee kits with blankets, cooking utensils, grain, sleeping mats and jerry cans for the families.

"The churches of Burkina Faso are reaching out to these people, just as they have actively reached out to those living with HIV/AIDS," said Scicchitano. "It is amazing to see people with so little being so willing to help others," he said.

For nearly 60 years, World Relief has worked with local churches to create sustainable solutions that help the desperately poor. Operating in more than 20 countries and 26 cities in the U.S., World Relief's programs include disaster relief, refugee assistance, AIDS ministries, urban ministries, community health, agricultural development, and community banking.

For interviews please contact Matthew Pugh at 443-451-1966.