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Nigeria: Csw Welcomes Appg Report On Violence In Central Nigeria

By Christian Solidarity Worldwide, CSW UK Office
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CSW welcomes the publication on 15 June of a report by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief (APPG-FoRB) on escalating violence in central Nigeria.

The report, entitled ‘Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?’, raises concerns regarding armed violence against Christian farming communities in the country’s central states, perpetrated by well-armed ethnic Fulani assailants, often referred to as ‘herders’, ‘militants’ or ‘militia’. According to the report, “the violence has claimed the lives of thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands more. It has caused untold human and economic devastation and heightened existing ethno-religious tensions.”

A range of factors are cited as driving the violence, including competition for resources, the spread of extremist ideology and criminality, an inadequate government response, the flow of arms into Nigeria, and misinformation. The report also highlights that the conflict “has manifested along religious lines, as the herders are predominantly ethnic Fulani Muslims and the farmers are predominantly Christians. The violence has claimed the lives of thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands more. It has caused untold human and economic devastation and heightened existing ethno-religious tensions.”

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW welcomes the publication of this report by the APPG, which draws much needed attention to the dire situation for vulnerable ethno-religious communities in central Nigeria. On an almost daily basis we receive reports detailing the most appalling violence against innocent civilians, and yet the governments of affected states and the federal government have failed woefully in fulfilling their responsibility to protect vulnerable villagers, to address the threat posed by these and other armed non state-actors, and to bring perpetrators of this violence to justice. In addition, there has been a regrettable failure on the part of the international community to hold the Nigerian authorities to account for their negligence in addressing violence that is decimating communities, claiming thousands of lives and driving people groups from their ancestral homes. We hope that this report will serve as a wake-up call, alerting the UK government and others of the need for swift and concrete action to bring this appalling human rights crisis to an end.”

The APPG-FoRB makes a number of recommendations to the Nigerian Government and other domestic and international actors which it hopes will assist in addressing the conflict, including to investigate and arrest suspected perpetrators, to disarm militias, to ensure police are adequately resourced, to offer humanitarian assistance to victim communities, and to foster dialogue between herders and farmers.