For the best part of two years Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State in north east Nigeria has been cut off from the outside world. But recently, a team from Open Doors was able to make two visits to the city.
On their first visit, they found an ‘eerily quiet’ city, with tight security. They visited a camp for 2000 displaced Christians.
“The conditions in the camp are very hard,” reported our workers. “They live in squalid circumstances. When it is time to receive their daily rations, the people form long lines outside the camp kitchen.”
Open Doors estimates that more than 12,500 Christians have been killed in religion related violence in Northern Nigeria between 2006 and 2014, of which the Boko Haram violence has claimed the most lives. It is also estimated that Boko Haram related violence has displaced more than 500,000 Christians in northern Nigeria.
In Maiduguri, Christians set up their own camp, because they reported facing ‘discrimination and provocation’ in camps which they shared with Muslims. Some Christians converted to Islam. So the Christians Association set up a separate camp.
The problem is that the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) – the government agency – has suspended supplying food to the camp, because it wants the Christians to move to the Muslim camps. So churches and individual Christians started contributing food. But this is becoming very hard to sustain.
“There are days that the camp dwellers simply have to go without food,” reported our observer. “Some of the Christians have been able to work on farms in the surrounding areas in exchange for food.”
Despite the difficulties, the team were encouraged to see a church which had been rebuilt. They were also able to reassure the Christians that they were not alone.
“It was a privilege to visit the believers of Maiduguri and to be able to assure them that even though they had been isolated for more than two years, they had not been forgotten. There are many around the world who have been faithfully persisting in prayer for them as they live out their faith on the frontline.”
Following this first visit, the team were able to return, taking with them gifts and supplies for adults and children. Among the gifts were SD cards which the adults could put in their phones, and which contained teaching materials on prayer. They also handed out some 500 Children’s Bibles and gifts which will support children’s education.
“Their joy over these gifts was beautiful to observe,” said an Open Doors worker.
A little while after the visit, Maiduguri was hit by a series of suicide bombings – a reminder that the area is far from safe.
In late September, a series of bomb blasts killed over 100 people and injured many more in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri. Just over a week later the city was rocked again when five children – four girls and one boy – blew themselves up in attacks at a mosque and the house of a local vigilante leader. Then, on 3 October, suicide bombers in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, killed 15 people.
The government claims that these bombings are a desperate response to the headway its troops are making against Boko Haram – the militant Islamist group which has brought terror to the region. Nigeria’s military has reported several victories against the group in recent months, including the rescue of some 241 women and children near the Cameroon border, and the recapture of many villages. (The Chibok girls remain missing, however.) At the end of September news broke that some 200 Boko Haram members surrendered in the town of Banki, on the border with Cameroon.
Open Doors field workers have asked us not to give up on our prayer for their region.
“We are so thankful that you have been partnering with us in prayer for Nigeria and thank you that we may continue to rely on that partnership.”
Source: Open Doors
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