Violence against Christians in Nigeria “can pave the way for genocide,” a group of U.K. parliamentarians warned this week in a new report analyzing the impact of violence carried out by Boko Haram extremists and Fulani militias throughout the West African country.
The U.K. All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both houses of parliament, released its new report “Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?” on Monday.
As Nigeria continues to struggle with the Boko Haram insurgency and the existence of its splinter group, Islamic State West African Province, APPG members are concerned about reports of escalating violence characterized as a “farmer-herder conflict” even though a disproportionate number of killings are being carried out by militant Fulani herdsmen against predominantly Christian farming communities in the country’s fertile Middle Belt region.
International rights advocates have contended that the standard for genocide has been reached in Nigeria as estimates have suggested that thousands of Christians have been killed in the Middle Belt as a traditional arbitration process between farmers and herders over damaged crops has broken down in recent years.
Violence in both the Middle Belt and northeast Nigeria (where Boko Haram and ISWAP commit atrocities) has led to the mass displacement of millions as entire communities have been forced to flee in fear for their lives in the wake of massacres.
“Among all the injustices for the U.K. to help correct in the near future, the widespread and growing persecution of Christians should be top of the list,” Member of Parliament Jim Shannon said in a statement. “Thus, as the U.K. faces the challenge of lockdown and mass quarantine for the first time in living memory, I ask you to please spare a thought for those Christians who face not only a pandemic but also threats of violence and persecution that we can’t imagine.”
Nigeria ranks as the 12th worst country in the world on Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians are most severely persecuted. Nigeria was in December, listed in the U.S. State Department’s special watch list of countries that tolerate or engage in severe violations of religious freedom due to the “lack of effective government response and the lack of judicial cases being brought forward in that country”.
An earlier report last month, revealed that around 620 Christians were killed in the African country by Islamic militants during the first five months of 2020 alone.
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