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Statement on Nigeria attacks

WCC statement expressing shock over the attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria, which is said to have cost the lives of more than 2,000 people, including children used in suicide bomb attacks.

12 January 2015

The latest violent attacks and killings in northern Nigeria demand the full attention and engagement of the government of Nigeria, and the active solidarity of the international community. The World Council of Churches is shocked by the unprecedented scale and brutality of the reported attacks by the extremist group Boko Haram in Baga – where more than 2,000 people are thought to have been killed – and in Maiduguri and Potiskum – where children as young as 10 are said to have been used in suicide bomb attacks. A mindset which deploys young children as bombs and which indiscriminately slaughters women, children and elderly people is beyond outrage, and disqualifies itself from any possible claim to religious justification.

The WCC calls on the Nigerian government to respond meaningfully to these attacks and to ensure by all reasonable means the protection of the people of northern Nigeria from further such atrocities. Election campaign commitments are superseded by this first and most fundamental responsibility.

The WCC joins with the Nigerian religious leaders who have called for the international community’s solidarity and engagement, and in expressing deep disappointment at the relative – even discriminatory – lack of international media coverage. As much as the WCC joins in the international solidarity with the people of France in the aftermath of the recent attacks in and near Paris, we are deeply saddened that the tragic events in Nigeria have not attracted equivalent international concern and solidarity.

Faced with these realities, the WCC is seeking to make a positive contribution to the situation in Nigeria. Following on a joint high level Christian-Muslim visit to Nigeria in May 2012, co-led by Dr Olav Fykse Tveit and HRH Prince Ghazi of Jordan of the Royal Jordanian Aal Al-Bayt Institute (RABIIT), the WCC and RABIIT have been working together to establish a centre to monitor incidents of religiously based violence and to work to promote interreligious harmony, justice and peace. We are also working in partnership with local Christian and Muslim partners, including the Christian Council of Nigeria. It is hoped that the centre, to be based in Abuja, will open during the first half of 2015.