AFRICA/NIGERIA - “Christians but also Muslims flee from Boko Haram” say local Church sources
Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - “Several churches are in ruins and tens of thousands, mainly Christians, are running to escape Boko Haram” Fides was told by Fr . Patrick Tor Alumuku, Social Communications officer in the archdiocese of Abuja. “I spoke to priests in Maiduguri (capital of Borno State north east Nigeria where the Islamist sect is most active) who speak of terrifying happenings” Fr Patrick said. “Boko Haram is determined to eliminate every sign of Christian presence and many churches have been destroyed or torched. Last week in a village in the area of Maiduguri, Boko Haram took over the parish for its local headquarters”.
According to information sent from the Bishop of Maiduguri, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, “in areas where Boko Haram is active Christians are fleeing by the thousands ”. The bishop says that at least 90.000 Catholics are displaced.
“However among the crowds of Christians in flight there are also Muslims,” Fr Patrick told Fides. “Some are chiefs of villages and towns, others are Muslim religious leaders (Emirs) who cannot identify with what is being committed by Boko Haram”.
“Unfortunately a good number of these displaced persons cannot escape from the combat areas and getting humanitarian aid to them is very difficult. Only people outside these areas can reached by assistance” the priest continued. “If a city like Maiduguri with a population of more than one million were to be attacked by the Boko Haram offensive, the result would be an extremely serious humanitarian disaster” concludes the Social Communications officer of the archdiocese of Abuja. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 6/9/2014)