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Violent attacks on Christians on increase as Africa faces “unprecedented” humanitarian emergency, says UN


2 July 2019

An unprecedented humanitarian emergency is looming in the Sahel region of Africa following a surge in armed violence, warned UN aid agencies and NGOs in a report on 27 June.

Around one million people fled their homes in the past year, bringing the total number of people displaced across the Sahel to 4.2 million, the report said. Displacement has increased five-fold in Burkina Faso and Niger, which have also recently seen a sharp rise in Islamist attacks against Christians.

“The impact of the crisis, in one of the world’s most vulnerable regions, is dramatic. The extent and intensity of the attacks have left communities suffering untold devastation,” said Chris Nikoi, regional director of the World Food Programme. “Millions of people have yet to recover from last year’s food and nutrition crisis,” he continued.  

Houses in Karamai village, Nigeria, that were burnt out in one of the brutal attacks by Fulani militants early in 2019 that killed nearly 300 Christians in Kaduna State
Houses in Karamai village, Nigeria, that were burnt out in one of the brutal attacks by Fulani militants early in 2019 that killed nearly 300 Christians in Kaduna State

Rising violence across the Sahel, including Burkina Faso, northern Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Mali, is putting communities at even greater risk of food insecurity, malnutrition and epidemics, the report warns.

It says more than seven million people are struggling with food insecurity, and five million children are at risk of malnutrition. Children’s education is also suffering, with more than 4,000 schools out of action and 900,000 children affected.

Barnabas Fund has reported a number of separate incidents of lethal Islamist attacks against Christians in the past six months. Our contacts in Burkina Faso reported early in June that 82 pastors and 1,145 Christians fled different locations in the north of the country to the city of Kaya, Sanmatenga province, following a series of attacks by jihadists that had killed at least 100 people.

In Nigeria, the death toll in Christian villages across Kaduna State reached almost 300 in February and March alone after a merciless killing spree by Fulani militants.

A woman and a 16-year-old boy were the latest victims murdered in northern Cameroon by Boko Haram militants close to Grossi village in early June, the scene of at least two previous attacks this year. Boko Haram is also active in south-eastern Niger where, on 11 June, they told Christians to flee for their lives or be killed.