The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, a Nigerian human rights watchdog group, called for the governments of South Korea and other democratic countries to respond to what it calls “red signals” of Christian genocide in Eastern Nigeria.
“The group, called Intersociety for short, is seeking to draw the attention of South Korea and the international community to the massacre of more than 500 unarmed Christians of Igbo ethnicity across eight Nigeria states in the last 160 days,” says Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley. Representative Foley says that though persecution of Christians by Fulani Muslim extremists has continued for more than two decades, 2021 has seen an upsurge in attacks in east and southeast Nigeria.
The ‘Middle Belt’ of Nigeria is the location of more than 500 Christian deaths in the past 160 days, as well as 20 years of Fulani Muslim extremist attacks on Christian towns and villages. Barkin Ladi is the home to a Voice of the Martyrs Korea-funded hospital specializing in the care of persecuted Christian populations.
“This international call for help from Intersociety arises from the shocking reality that not a single Fulani has yet been arrested for any of these 500 deaths,” says Representative Foley. “International observers, including former US Congressman Frank Wolf, the sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), are raising their concerns that Nigerian authorities at national, state, and local levels seem either unwilling or unable to halt the present wave of violence.” Representative Foley says that Wolf testified at a June 9 hearing of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that in his own visits to the area he has witnessed warning signs of genocide against Nigerian Christians. “Wolf is currently calling for President Biden to appoint a special envoy to coordinate an international response to the violence,” says Representative Foley. “But as brothers and sisters to the Christians in Nigeria, we believe that we do not need to wait or limit our response to what governments choose to do or not do.”
Ibrahim Izang Aziobo was blinded when Muslim Fulani extremists shot him during an attack on Christians in Nigeria
Voice of the Martyrs Korea helps to fund a hospital in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State, which is open to all residents but specializes in providing medical care to Christian victims of persecution and their surviving family members. Representative Foley says that the hospital is centrally located in the “Middle Belt” of Nigeria where the attacks against Christians have been concentrated. The hospital currently provides accident and emergency services and general health care, as well as maternity services, child immunization, a diagnostic lab, and treatment for HIV and hepatitis. Expansion to provide more beds and specialty clinics is currently underway.
“This is not just a recent 160–day episode of violence,” says Representative Foley. “It is a 20 year long ongoing campaign of brutality by Muslim Fulani extremists against Christian towns and villages all across Nigeria’s ‘Middle Belt’. The most concerning and effective form of genocide against Nigerian Christians may not be these 500 most recent deaths. It may be the diseases and illnesses that are left untreated because Christians are displaced from their homes and unable to afford or find treatment.”
Representative Foley says that the Barkin Ladi region has an estimated population of one million but has only one government hospital, with little equipment or resident medical staff. “Fulani extremists don’t just kill Christians with machetes and guns,” says Representative Foley. “They kill them by disrupting the vaccination of their children and the treatment of malaria, chronic hepatitis, and simple childhood diseases among the Christian children. That’s what our funding is designed to change.”
Representative Foley says that Nigeria is currently listed third behind only Afghanistan and Iraq on the Global Terrorism Index, an annual ranking of the world’s terrorist hot spots compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Still, Representative Foley says there is reason for hope for Nigeria. “Fulanis are killing Christians, not converting them to Muslim extremism,” says Representative Foley. “This is still a country where perhaps as much as 50% of the population is Christian. What is required of Christians in other countries is simply that we stand with them, pray with them, help them bury their dead and care for their wounded, and learn and be inspired by the stories of their faithfulness in the midst of relentless persecution.”
A comprehensive update on the situation facing Nigerian Christians can be found at https://vomkorea.com/en/country-profile/NIGERIA/. To make a donation to help Voice of the Martyrs Korea meet the needs of persecuted Nigerian Christians, visit www.vomkorea.com/en/donation or give via electronic transfer to:
국민은행 (KB Bank) 463501-01-243303
예금주(Account Holder): (사)순교자의소리
Please include the phrase “Nigeria” on the donation.