The killing of Christians in northern Nigeria has increased by 62% in just one year.
The 2016 World Watch List shows a staggering 62% increase in violent killings of Christians in northern Nigeria as churches in Nigeria unite to highlight this problem for the first time. A report to be released in Abuja by Open Doors and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), ‘Crushed but not defeated, the impact of persistent violence on the church in northern Nigeria’, makes a detailed study of the violence that has occurred.
A partner director for West Africa says: “This report shows that extent and impact of the persistent violence on the church in northern Nigeria is much more serious than previously expected. Once Boko Haram is defeated, the problem will not be solved. Christians living under Sharia law are facing discrimination and marginalization and have limited to no access to federal rights. We hope that this report will prompt the Nigerian government and international community to take the real suffering of persecuted Christians seriously and act on their behalf. Next to that, I hope that Nigerian Christians will become more involved with their brothers and sisters; that they will stand in the gap for them.”
The report looks at persecution from three main sources: Boko Haram, Muslim Fulani herdsmen and the Muslim religious and political elite that dominates government in northern Nigeria.
In 2015, there were 4,028 killings and 198 church attacks that Open Doors was able to record. The figures recorded for the previous year were 2,484 killings and 108 church attacks.
An estimated 30 million Christians in northern Nigeria form the largest minority in a mainly Muslim environment. They are at risk of violent persecution, as the report states: “For decades, Christians in the region have suffered marginalization and discrimination as well as targeted violence.”
Open Doors works in northern Nigeria, funding development projects such as clinics, community health training, provision of waterholes, schools and teacher training, vocational training for farmers and micro-loans for orphans and widows. Trauma work is also done with people who have suffered violent persecution; emergency relief is provided for these people.
Nigeria is 12th on the Open Doors World Watch List which ranks countries according to how difficult it is to be a Christian. Please continue to keep this nation in prayer as violence and persecution reaches unprecedented levels.
*Name changed to protect identity.