In Defense of Christians in Nigeria
Oral statement delivered during the 43rd Regular Session of the Human Rights Council, in Geneva on 11 March 2020.
Nigeria is experiencing a humanitarian crisis and a rapidly deteriorating situation for Christians who are increasingly the targets of religiously motivated violence. In fact, the U.S. just added Nigeria to a Special Watch List for countries that have “engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom.’” In 2019 alone, “[m]ore than 1000 Christians [were] murdered by Islamic militants.”
The U.N. Refugee Agency estimates that Boko Haram’s terrorist activities have internally displaced over 2 million Nigerians, created nearly 250,000 refugees, and killed more than 37,500 people. In addition, Christians are attacked by Fulani Herdsmen who – like Boko Haram -- kill, destroy homes and churches, and kidnap Christian girls to marry them to Muslim men.
As we have reported in previous written submissions, Leah Sharibu, a Christian teen who was kidnapped by Boko Haram just over two years ago, continues to be held captive because she refuses to deny her faith in Christ. Time is of the utmost importance for addressing Leah’s case as she remains in serious danger. Immediate action must be taken to free her before it’s too late.
Escalating acts of violence and Leah’s situation are evidence of the significant threat to Nigerian Christians. We respectfully call to this Council’s attention to the fact that U.N. Charter requires action to prevent and remove threats to peace, and to suppress of acts of aggression. The U.N. must so act now.