Hundreds of Christians expelled from their village in Burkina Faso are receiving vital help from ACN as part of a renewed commitment to supporting victims of Islamist extremism in Africa’s impoverished Sahel region.

ACN is providing emergency food supplies for more than 340 of the faithful on the brink of starvation who were driven out of their homes in Débé, north-west Burkina Faso by terrorists last November.

The extremists murdered two children for flouting their ban on going to school before giving the rest of the Christian community a 72-hour ultimatum to leave.

As well as providing crucial assistance for those who fled Débé, ACN is also supporting up to 60 poor families who have taken in IDPs (internally displaced persons).

According to UN figures, there are more than two million IDPs in the country.

Bishop Prosper Ky of Dédougou Diocese told ACN: “It is truly distressing to see internally displaced people with all their worldly goods roaming the streets and looking for somewhere to stay.

“In my diocese there are hundreds of thousands of them. The majority are women and children.”

Jihadist groups control around 40 percent of the country’s territory, forcing Islamic norms upon locals under the threat of harsh penalties, including death.

Church sources in the country told ACN that the clock has been turned back 25 years – as destitution spreads and Church-run hospitals and schools are destroyed or closed.

Father Etienne Sawadogo – a parish priest in Rollo, northern Burkina Faso who is also displaced – said: “How are people to live a Christian life when they are constantly hungry?

“How are people to pursue their Christian calling if they are unwell and not receiving any aid?”

ACN’s help in the region has included food, medicine, tuition fees and the construction of classrooms.

In addition to helping survivors of terrorism, ACN has supported priests, seminarians and religious sisters in the Sahel with Mass stipends, training, Catholic books, vehicles and building projects.