Unfortunately, Christians are persecuted not only by jihadist groups that seek to establish a caliphate, that is to say a territory governed by a very restrictive, very strict Islam, but they are also victims of armed groups that kidnap people, and the Catholic Church has been increasingly a target of these groups. There are also numerous cases of attacks on Christian farmers by the Fulani, Muslim nomadic herdsmen who have been showing a growing and very worrying violence.
Everyone needs to know these stories.
Insecurity in Nigeria has grown year by year, leading ACN to also increase the number of projects in this country. And many are linked, for example, to supporting communities and dioceses that deal directly with the displaced. In the Diocese of Makurdi alone, there are seven camps for internally displaced people, people who have had to leave their homes and who are now completely dependent on the Church’s help to survive on a day-to-day basis.
The Christians of Nigeria are true heroes who risk their lives for their faith and are, therefore, for all of us, an enormous example of courage, of selflessness.
In the Diocese of Makurdi there are about two million internally displaced people. Many are Christians. Everyone is completely empty-handed. The situation is dire. Most don’t even have a mat to sleep on. Father Remigius is desperate and asks for our help.
“I didn’t imagine that I would see human suffering in this way… Burnt villages, people being killed in their homes, some couldn’t even bury their dead who were shot in the bush as if they were wild animals…” The threat is present in all everywhere, in every village and even in the cities. No one is safe anywhere. “The killing continues” , he says. It appears that he is exhausted. It’s hard to resist a permanent threat. Father Remigius Ihyula no longer knows how to deal with so many completely lost people, who have lost everything they had and who are now crowding into camps for displaced people, as if they were just a number, a statistic. A problem that no one seems to want to solve.
In the Diocese of Makurdi, in the seven displaced persons camps that shelter the victims of terrorism in Nigeria, there are not only mourners. There is also misery, suffering, hunger. “Can you imagine that people who were self-sufficient now have to beg to eat, to feed themselves?” In the Diocese alone there are about two million displaced people. This huge number shows the dimension of this humanitarian crisis that the world continues to ignore. There are two million displaced people, but only around 500,000 mats. “We are talking about more than 1 million people who sleep directly on the floor” explains the priest.
What can the Diocese do in the face of so much misery, in the face of such an avalanche of people who are crowding into camps for displaced people and have no resources, no fields to cultivate, no work? What can the Diocese do to feed so many thousands of displaced people who are hungry and cold, who are afraid? “They live in a circle of despair. What we try to do as a Diocese is to give them hope. People without hope cannot exist for long” , says Father Remigius Ihyula. It is not easy to be a priest in such a diocese. Wherever he goes, he always hears the same cries, the same stories of violence and pain. Wherever you go, there is always the same feeling of impotence as someone who cannot respond to so much anguish.
The world needs to wake up to what is happening, the world needs to wake up from its sleep and understand that in Nigeria there are millions of people suffering. And many of these suffering men, women and children are Christians. “The internally displaced have many needs. But we ask that, if possible, help us, in any way. We are begging for your help…”