Among the more than 2 million people who have fled Islamic extremist violence in northern Nigeria are hundreds of Christians who have been denied resettlement help because of their faith, aid workers said.
Displaced Muslims have received government-built homes, new land and financial support for resettlement, but 347 Christians in urgent need have been denied help because of their faith, the leader of a Christian organization based in Nigeria said.
“We cannot watch them die while others unwillingly turn to Islam to get support while we look on,” the leader said. “We want to start something, no matter how small.”
The organization, whose name is withheld for security reasons, is willing to provide the Christians, many of them new converts, free land on its properties but needs assistance to build small homes.
“We want to boldly help these people,” the leader said. “A family will need not less than $3,000 to get a home, not with thatched roofs this time, but with metal roof sheeting. We also will build homes ourselves and donate to them individually to ensure quality help, and then empower them to start a new life.”
In two states in the northeast, some Christian converts from Islam were denied entry into camps for the displaced, he said.
“So many of them are left to die on their own, as no food or shelter is made available to them,” the leader said. “We had tried within our little resources to help these ones, but the rejected people without external help to survive are too many.”
Attacks by Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, and by its offshoot, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), have displaced more than 2.3 million people within Nigeria and driven nearly 600,000 to the neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger, according to the United Nations. While the Nigerian military has regained control of most parts of the northeast, civilians continue to suffer isolated gun, machete and bomb attacks.
Suspected Boko Haram terrorists in December killed a woman and her bridal party in northeast Nigeria days before her planned New Year’s Eve wedding, and eight other Christians were killed in separate attacks, according to Morning Star News. Martha Bulus and her two bridesmaids were stopped on Dec. 26 as they made their way from Gwoza, Borno state to Bulus’ hometown in Adamawa state for her wedding.
They were ordered from their vehicle, identified as Christians and then beheaded, church leaders said. Eight other Christians were killed in the same area on the same day, one church leader said.
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SOURCE: Christian Aid Mission