Food Aid Beginning to Reach Nigerian Christians and Others Displaced by Boko Haram

People displaced by Boko Haram violence wait to fill water containers in March at the Muna Dalti Internally Displaced People’s camp in Maiduguri, Borno state in northeastern Nigeria.
Photo by UNICEF/Gilbertson

Food aid is beginning to reach Nigerian Christians and others displaced by Boko Haram violence in the Lake Chad Basin, World Watch Monitor (WWM) reported July 10.

WWM said food was delivered to at least 75,000 people in some of the most isolated camps in early July, citing reports from humanitarian relief organization Open Doors.

Among some five million internally displaced persons (IDPs) at risk of starving to death in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, WWM said, the most vulnerable are Christians who had been discriminated against in food distributions in favor of Muslims.

An IDP identified only as Rhoda, whose father was killed by Boko Haram terrorists, was among three persons Open Doors quoted as having been denied food aid because of her Christianity.

“Some help organizations used to bring help,” Rhoda said on an Open Doors video interview, “but Christian brothers didn’t used to get it.”

Bishop William Naga, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Borno State, told Open Doors the discrimination began when control of refugee camps was entrusted to organizations outside the government.

“The governor (Kashim Shettima) did his best when the Christians had to flee their places in 2014 and 2015,” Naga said in a June Open Doors report. “But when the care of the camps was handed over to other organizations, the discrimination started.”

In an April interview with the Nigerian newspaper The Nation, Naga said Shettima’s office directed the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to give food supplies directly to Christians in camps in Maiduguri.

Donated food is sometimes stolen and diverted from those in need. In May, the high court in Maiduguri convicted two food distribution leaders of stealing and selling 180 bags of rice intended for IDPs, the BBC reported. Umar Ibrahim, Mafa supervisory councilor for agriculture, and Bulama Ali Zangebe, a camp feeding committee member, were each sentenced to two years in prison and fined 1 million naira, about $3,200. The Danish Refugee Council had donated the food to IDPs in Mafa, an area of Borno.

There have been multiple reports of public officials stealing food intended for IDPs, but the two men were the first penalized in court, Newsweek reported May 5.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Diana Chandler