‘There is just too much to care about” is a response of many people in our news-saturated world. For many Christians, in their charitable giving and prayer lives, it is hard to know what should matter most.
Although it may not get the news attention it deserves, few issues in the world today remain more appallingly submerged beneath our attention than the plight of Nigeria’s Christians. In the north-east of the country Boko Haram continues to target local communities. In Africa’s most populous country, as in Iraq and Syria under ISIS, the Christians were targeted first and then any Muslims who didn’t cooperate with the group.
It is three years now since Boko Haram declared a caliphate in the areas of Nigeria it controlled. One eyewitness recently described to me how in the years before the caliphate was proclaimed several Afghans appeared in the area of Maiduguri. Over the ensuing months more and more foreigners appeared – from Somalia, Mali and also Arabs. They began to train at night and recruit young locals.
“When the caliphate came” is how Nigeria’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) often begin their stories. When the caliphate came, the names of Christians were already on a list. Some were tipped off and most managed to get out in time. Hundreds who did not were slaughtered.
The rest of the Christian community walked in a great exodus across the mountainous borders, into Cameroon and back around into safer areas of Nigeria. More than one and a half million people from one state alone – Borno – are now displaced from their homes, and you can meet them at IDP camps across the country.
Boko Haram’s seizure of 300 Chibok schoolgirls in 2014 was one of the few times that the plight of Nigeria’s Christians has broken through to international headlines. The government continues to maintain that it is doing everything possible to solve the plight of the abducted girls. But whether through complicity, corruption, incompetence or all these, the girls remain missing.
How to continue reading…
This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week
The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection