Catching Our Eye
1.3 million Christians displaced by Boko Haram
Christians in northern Nigeria have paid a heavy price for Boko Haram’s insurgency, which aims at implementing sharia law in Africa’s most populous country.
An estimated 11,500 Christians were killed, over 1.3 million others were displaced and 13,000 churches destroyed or abandoned, between 2006 and 2014, said Mgr. Joseph Bagobiri, Bishop of Kafanchan (Kaduna State), at a conference held at the UN Headquarters in New York.
The most affected Christian communities are in the northern States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Many have relocated mainly to the predominant Christian states in the Middle Belt areas: Plateau, Nassarawa, Benue, Taraba and the southern part of Kaduna state.
But in recent months, these areas have been affected by the violence of the Fulani herdsmen. "Christian communities in the predominant Christian states in the Middle Belt areas are the most affected by the Muslim Fulani herdsmen forceful invasions and attacks. This is a blatant foreign invasion of the ancestral lands of the Christian and minority communities", said Mgr. Bagobiri quoting a detailed study: "Crushed but not defeated: The impact of persistent violence on the Church in Northern Nigeria" released jointly by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Open Doors International on 24 Feb. in Abuja, Nigeria's capital.
"In these Middle Belt states, the Fulani herdsmen have incessantly terrorized many communities, wiping out some from existence, and in places like Agatu in Benue State and Gwantu and Manchok in Kaduna State, these attacks assumed a genocidal character, as between 150 – 300 vulnerable persons were killed overnight", he stressed.
Mgr. Bagobiri called on the international community to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to ensure freedom of worship for Christians and other minorities in northern Nigeria, and to tackle the humanitarian emergency of displaced populations.
Khartoum 'bombs' Catholic school in Nuba Mountains
The government of Sudan has bombed St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Primary School in Kauda, in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, near its own border with South Sudan, according to local reports.
Bishop Macram Max Gassis of the local diocese condemned the attack, which reportedly occurred during the afternoon of 25 May.
Separately, rebel sources said government warplanes dropped barrel bombs on the Heiban area on 1 May, killing six children from one family.
Expressing its concern at "indiscriminate aerial bombardment", the Diocese of El Obeid said teachers had earlier heard and counted "15 bombs being dropped within the school’s vicinity" on 18 May, before a jet fired a missile at the edge of the school’s teacher-training compound a week later.
The US, UK and Norway condemned the bombardment of civilians in the Kauda and Heiban areas of South Kordofan, including the bombing of the school.
Lying near the borders of the now-independent South Sudan, the mainly Christian people of the Nuba Mountains have long resisted Khartoum’s Arab and Islamist rule, but were denied a meaningful self-determination vote when the South split away in 2011.
Lost, then found, then lost
On 19 May, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari held a ceremony at the presidential palace to meet Amina Ali Nkeki, 19, the first of the 219 girls kidnapped from their Chibok school in April 2014 to be found alive. The girl was there with her new baby, and her elderly mother.
The three haven't been heard from since.
Premium Times has the bizarre testimony of Nkeki's older brother, Noah, who says he attended the ceremony, then was told by government officials that he would be able to see his sister and mother the following day, after a doctor's examination.
The brother is still waiting. So is Yakubu Nkeki, chairman of the Chibok Parents' Association, who also attended the 19 May ceremony. “None of us knows where she is,” he was quoted as saying, five days later. The Premium Times report is a tale of federal, state and military spokesmen pointing fingers at one another.