One of the underreported aspects of the violence in the Sahel is the ongoing targeting of Christians and their churches, which threatens to drive them out of the area for good.

According to an annual report by the Christian charity organization, Open Doors, 27 Islamist groups repeatedly target Christians in the Sahel. 

Climate change played a role in how the violence against Christian began in the Sahel: The northern Sahel lands have always been traditionally Islamic and the southern Christian. But as prolonged droughts threatened what meager farmland there was in the north, nomadic Islamic Fulani tribes were forced to move south into Christian lands and began to take over them by force. 

But the bigger issue has been Islamic extremists, among them ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram. As these extremist groups have been forced from their bases in the Middle East, they’ve found the poor, failing states of the Sahel to be perfect grounds for establishing enclaves where only their version of Islam is tolerated.