Catholic Natives Forced to Flee Amidst Escalating Attacks in Central Nigeria

Central Nigeria’s presidential elections have generated controversy and are still in the news. Mike Uba, the county chairman of Guma in the Middle Belt state, claims that violent attacks by Fulani extremists have occurred in six counties since the election.

According to Catholic News Agency, these counties are located on the northern and southern borders of the state. One of the recent attacks occurred on March 7 in the village of Tse Jor. For at a minimum two-hour span, some 40 attackers on motorcycles attacked helpless men, women, and children, killing at least 20 locals.

Helen Tikyaa, an aid worker employed by the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, witnessed the attack and reported that she could not intervene until the killers had left. The women and children from Tse Jor and nearby villages have fled to internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Naka, about 20 miles west of Makurdi.

Increasing Attacks on Christians in Nigeria

According to reports from the Foundation for Justice Development and Peace, the town of Naka, which has a population of 3,000, is home to a large IDP camp with 5,000 residents. In the shared article in National Catholic Register, most camp residents are women and children suffering from hunger and trauma due to the ongoing attacks by Muslim tribes.

These tribes seized and depopulated eight neighboring villages after the raid on Tse Jor on March 7. While the state government only distributes supplies once a month, many of the camp’s young residents are exhibiting signs of malnutrition. As their food supply runs out, camp members are forced to work odd jobs or beg on the streets of Naka.

The UNHCR, Red Cross, and MSF have been very active in providing support of various kinds, including temporary shelters and protection-related support to the victims. However, Father Ihyula noted that while the Benue state government has been doing its best, the federal government has neglected the people’s suffering.

Also Read: Christian Communities in Northeast Nigeria Attacked by Terrorists

Persecution of Christians due to Islamic Extremism

In Nigeria, persecution of Christians is most severe and common in the northern part of the country, where militant groups such as Boko Haram, ISWAP, and Fulani militants are increasingly working together against Christians and also against Muslims who do not support their agenda. According to Open Doors Uk, This has led to raids on Christian communities and other forms of violence, forcing many Christians and other Nigerians to live in internally displaced camps.

Women and children are particularly vulnerable in these camps, with children suffering from health issues and women and girls being at risk of human trafficking. Additionally, Christians in the north are often treated as second-class citizens, facing discrimination and hostility. Those from a Muslim background face rejection, pressure to give up their faith, and physical violence.

The violence and land grabbing are not limited to the north alone, as Fulani militants have also invaded communities in the southern region, taking over forests and farmlands. However, in the south, people have not been driven away from their villages but have found their land taken over by these militant groups.

Related Article: President Biden Decides to Omit Nigeria from Religious Freedom Violators List Despite Increase in Christian Persecution

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