ACLJ Details the Ongoing Violence Facing Christians in Nigeria at the UN and Demands Immediate Action To Prevent Further Suffering
Christians in Nigeria are continuously living under the threat of being killed or kidnapped because of their Christian faith. ACLJ Senior Counsel for Global Affairs Mike Pompeo (former Secretary of State) has previously detailed just how dire the current situation in Nigeria is: Unfortunately, the tragedy in Nigeria persists. At least 1,500 Christians have already been killed in Nigeria during 2021, and even more have been kidnapped and are either being held hostage or trafficked. The attacks are brutal. Armed radical Islamic groups arrive in a village during the night, kill the men, rape and murder the women, and kidnap the children. Yet despite this, the government of Nigeria and the international community continue to ignore the ongoing violence and massive humanitarian crisis. At the ACLJ, we refuse to sit idly by while Christians are being slaughtered and kidnapped in Nigeria. The ongoing violence being carried out against Christians in Nigeria is an issue that we continue to engage at the international level. Now, we have just filed a critical written submission for the 48th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC). In our most recent submission , we detailed the extent of the damage suffered in Nigeria: Christians in Nigeria are under threat of extinction by Islamic militant groups such as Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen. Due to the extremist violence, the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNRA) estimates that over 2.7 million people have been displaced in north-eastern Nigeria. We also told the HRC about the recent kidnappings that occurred at Bethel Baptist High School, where, as previously told you , innocent students who were seeking an education were taken at gunpoint from the school. Currently, approximately 80 of these students remain captive: In July of 2021, it was estimated that more than 120 students at a Baptist boarding school in the northern state of Kaduna were kidnapped by armed assailants. Around 2 a.m. on 5 July 2021, armed assailants began firing their weapons indiscriminately and breached the walls of Bethel Baptist High. According to a police statement the assailants “overpowered the school’s security guards and made their way into the students’ hostel where they abducted an unspecified number of students into the forest”. Since the raid approximately 56 of the students have been released . Now, it is reported that the assailants are demanding one million Naira ($2,400) for the release of each of the remaining 80 students. One father shared the desperate lengths he went to in order to pay the ransom for his daughter’s safe return, “I sold all my belongings. I sold our permanent house. A plot of land I had acquired, I had to sell for the release of my daughter.” Tragically, within Nigeria this is an increasing problem as the targeting of school children for kidnap and ransom is seen by violent actors as profitable. Every day students go to school knowing there is a chance that evil men could kidnap or even kill them. As we detailed in our submission : In fact, according to a recent NGO report , during the first four months of 2021 Islamic extremist groups, such as Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen, were responsible for the deaths of 1,470 Nigerian Christians and have abducted approximately 3,200 Nigerians with 2,200 of those abducted being Christians. We also reminded the U.N. HRC of Leah Sharibu who, like so many others, was kidnapped from her boarding school by Boko Haram. For over three and a half years, Leah has remained a captive of Boko Haram because of her Christian faith and has suffered unfathomable abuse, including twice giving birth to her captors’ children. We further urged the U.N. to take immediate action to put an end to the atrocities being carried out against Christians daily: To mitigate greater future harm, we respectfully urge this council to work closely with the government of Nigeria to immediately secure the release of Leah Sharibu, prosecute those who are responsible, protect those most vulnerable to future attacks, and provide aid and assistance to the victims. Until real action is taken against Boko Haram and other extremist groups, those who live under the daily fear of being abducted, raped, enslaved, or killed will continue to be deprived of their fundamental human rights. In less than a month, we will be back at the U.N. HRC to deliver oral interventions advocating for Christians who are facing ongoing suffering and persecution. Stand with us as we continue to fight to protect persecuted Christians around the world.