NIGERIA – Christians feel abandoned by Western churches
Nigerian Christians, who have suffered for years from attacks by radical Islamic groups, feel abandoned by Western churches that have failed to speak out about the developing humanitarian tragedy.
Nigerian Christians have been targeted by the radical Boko Haram group since 2009. In the past year, there has also been a very alarming rise in attacks by Fulani herdsmen against Christian farmers which have claimed the lives of hundreds of villagers. The attacks on Christian farmers are at least partly motivated by religion, though are various factors involved including land disputes.
Frank Wolf, who is a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, visited Nigeria a few months ago and witnessed first hand the difficulties that the thousands of internally displaced people face in Nigeria. He said:
“People of faith, Christians, feel very much forgotten. Nigeria is fractured and is breaking down in so many ways, and it seems that the world has forgotten about it,”
“They feel abandoned by the West, and by the Church in the West. You are not hearing many in the West advocating (for them). They would expect that the faith community in the West, Europe, would be advocating, speaking out.”
He said several issues need to be tackled in Nigeria to stop the country from unravelling, such as making sure that police are properly trained in human rights and implementing programs against corruption.
Terrorism is a major concern for many Nigerians, especially in the north of the country, has been rapidly increasing in the past few years Describing the conversations he had with local people during his visit, Wolf said “Everywhere we went, the issue of Boko Haram came up. But secondly, the issue of the Fulani militants came up even more,”
The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, which is focused on promoting religious freedom as a fundamental human right, has now produced a detailed report on the crisis titled “Nigeria-Fractured and Forgotten” and made several recommendations on how foreign governments can help.
The report also disputes some claims made by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, such as the idea that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated”. Although there are some signs that Boko Haram has lost ground and been pushed back in some areas, attacks on civilians and Christians continue and the situation for ordinary citizens remains largely unchanged.
It concludes that the claim of pushing back Boko Haram “should be best understood as political rhetoric which is not without its own merit as a tool for galvanizing support, shifting momentum and undercutting the narrative Boko Haram wants to maintain.”