After fleeing attacks from militants, many Christians in Nigeria continue to live in difficult conditions. But Release International partners are there to support and encourage them, as Kenneth Harrod reports.
Daniel will never be able to forget the night Fulani militants attacked his village last year. It was a night that devastated his family.
‘Armed Fulani militants attacked my village while I and two other men were on night patrol. We heard gunshots from a distance. Unknown to me my house was the first one they targeted. They shot my wife and five of my children,’ said Daniel. ‘I thank God that two of my children survived – but I lost my wife and three of my kids.’
Daniel (pictured above) decided to leave the area and is now living in a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Kaduna state. ‘I decided to leave the community for fear of another attack, since they have threatened to come and attack again,’ he said.
The camp where Daniel and his two surviving children are now living was visited by a Release International partner, who provided food and other emergency resources. ‘Thank you for this food relief,’ Daniel said. ‘We truly appreciate it and pray the Lord will bless those organisations that have made this possible.‘
Zugwai is a wife and mother who now lives on the same IDP camp. She recalls the attack on her village that forced her to flee. ‘After our last meal we went to bed, when we heard gunshots in our village. We decided to run into the bushes for safety. While we ran, our houses were set ablaze by the attackers. My house and the hair salon I ran were burned down. Since then we have been in this camp, struggling for survival.’
She added, reflecting on her present circumstances: ‘God has used kind-hearted people to support us. It is my prayer that these evildoers who attack us will come to repentance.’
Thousands of people are now living in IDP camps in Nigeria, Release’s partner reported. The camp where Daniel and Zugwai are situated alone houses around 5,000 people, including infants and the elderly, and conditions are not easy.
The relief work of Release’s partner has provided basic items such as rice, beans, sugar, vegetable oil, salt and laundry soap, all packaged in buckets. Our partner also plans to visit the camp to provide medical support and to run its well-established Bible-based trauma healing counselling for those struggling in the wake of attacks.
Rev Yunana is a minister in one of the areas affected by Fulani attacks and was at the IDP camp when our partner visited. ‘On behalf of the entire congregation and all the villagers shown to us Christian love,’ he said. ‘We are very grateful. We accept your hand of kindness with much gratitude.‘
Murna (pictured) is another mother living on the camp after fleeing violence. ‘We were asleep at about 11pm when we heard sporadic gunshots in our village,’ she said. ‘I managed to run into the maize plantation to hide. Our houses were burned down. I lost an in-law and his son that night. I want to say a big “thank you” to those who have supported us. This food will go a long way to catering for our needs.’
Another survivor, also called Murna highlighted some of the difficulties for those who end up in IDP camps. ‘My house and provision store were burned down. After the attack we came to the IDP camp where they have fed and clothed us. Our major source of livelihood (farming) has been taken away from us as we cannot access our farms again for fear of attacks. We lack blankets to keep warm at night. I am grateful to those who are thinking of us. May God bless and replenish you.’ Murna said God spared her family, but another family of five she knew were all killed in the attack.
Release International’s partner visited another camp further south, in Benue state. This location, about the size of a football field, houses several thousand families, all survivors of brutal attacks on more than 100 communities in Benue, Nassarawa and Taraba states. Those living in the camp have lacked adequate food and shelter, and have even faced an outbreak of malaria.
Gideon, a former carpenter, has been living there for a year now. He recalled the day militants attacked his village. ‘We were already asleep when we heard gunshots in our village. I came out and realised we had been surrounded by armed Fulani men. We managed to run to the bushes to hide. They shot at us while we ran.‘
‘Since the attack we have tried going back to our village but they have attacked again, and since our lives are threatened no one wants to go back to the village again. Even our farms are now inaccessible to us since the attacks.’
Samuel has been living at this camp since 2020, following a Fulani attack on his village, which saw people killed, houses burned and farmlands destroyed. ‘Since our major means of livelihood – farming – has been taken from us (we cannot go back to our farms for fear of being attacked again) we have been surviving from hand to mouth,’ he said.
Please continue to pray for all Christian families in Nigeria who have been displaced by attacks on their communities. Pray for the necessary help to rebuild their lives. Pray also for our partners as they continue to minister to persecuted Christians in the midst of on-going violence.
PLEASE HELP CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE BEEN FORCED TO FLEE PERSECUTION AND CONFLICT.
These precious believers need your prayers and gifts to survive – and rebuild their lives. Your gift could provide:
- vital food parcels
- pastoral care and Christian discipleship
- vocational training to help believers start small businesses
To make a gift please call 01689 823491 or give online via the ‘Donate Now! button.
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