Christians in Nigeria face systematic persecution, especially in the northern parts of the country where fundamentalist groups target Christian villages. Thousands of Christians have been killed over the last few years. More than a million people have fled the shocking violence and have become refugees in their own country. As a result, 13,000 churches have been closed or destroyed altogether.
A brutal abduction
The main perpetrators are members of the so-called Boko Haram, a Salafi-jihadi Muslim group that emerged in 2003. Based in north-eastern Nigeria, members are also active in Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. The terrorist group’s brutal activities gained wider publicity in 2014 after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a secondary school in a village called Chibok in Borno State. 57 schoolgirls managed to escape, while 219 remained in the hands of Boko Haram. They were reportedly forced into marriages, sold into slavery, or presented to individual terrorists as a prize for their service. Non-Muslim girls were forced to convert to Islam. There are also reports indicating that some of the schoolgirls were used as suicide bombers in Cameroon. The brutal abduction sparked the global campaign #BringBackOurGirls. However, two years later, the situation in Nigeria has deteriorated and the girls have not returned to their families.