The massacre of Christians in the Middle Belt and northeast Nigeria has reached genocide proportions. Villagers and farmers in these regions live in constant fear and dread that they will be attacked; and there is nothing that they can do about it.
“… Estimates have suggested that thousands of Christians have been killed in the Middle Belt… [and there is] the mass displacement of millions as entire communities have been forced to flee in fear for their lives in the wake of massacres,” (article by Samuel Smith, Christian Post, June 20, 2020 www.christianpost.com).
This is an extremely bleak situation! And it is difficult for us to imagine – we, who live comparatively comfortable lifestyles in the West. But at times we need to pause and consider those who wake each morning to the very stark reality that they might be killed by one of the attacking groups, and just because they are Christians!
It has been years now that Nigeria has endured the enormous challenges posed by the Boko Haram insurgency. And of late, the West African nation has also struggled with a splinter set of this major group known as Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP). Then, there are also the extremely militant Fulani herdsmen who contribute to the country’s woes.
The violence against Christians in Nigeria has recently been afforded added international awareness with the release of a report on the severity of the situation. The report was compiled by the UK All-Party Parliament Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief. It is titled Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?
Of course, the title is a rhetorical question. International rights advocates are convinced that “the standard for genocide has been reached in Nigeria.” Further, the report stated that Nigerian government ministers have admitted that “Christians are being ruthlessly targeted, specifically because of their Faith.” The report harshly criticized the government for its “failure to prosecute past perpetrators of violence, or heed early warnings of impending attacks… [and] the inability of the Nigerian Federal and State Governments to protect Christian farmers…”
It certainly seems as though the Nigerian government has turned a blind eye to the atrocities being committed against the Christians of its country.
However, as one of the founders of the Coalition for Genocide Response has pointed out, “… The international community cannot be blind to the reports of atrocities and must ask important questions. How will the Nigerian Government explain the mass killings in Nigeria as recorded by several international organizations? What is the Nigerian Government doing to ensure that the acts are investigated, and the perpetrators prosecuted?”
Of course, these questions need to be followed up with consistent international pressure and action to compel the authorities in the country to protect and care for all its citizens – irrespective of religion or ethnicity.
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