Thursday, 15 January 2015

Archbishop of Jos calls on world not to forget those who suffer, urges action to stop Boko Haram



Msgr Ignatius Kaigama talks about the suffering of a country hit by Islamist violence. For the prelate, what is going on "is not a clash between Christians and Muslims", but the result of an increasingly powerful group that is willing to attack anyone who stands in its way. He wants greater international commitment and "determination to halt terrorism."


Jos (AsiaNews) - "Do not forget that we are here, that we are suffering, that many people have been killed, that many have become displaced, that they do not have a place to live. We need help and practical support to put an end to attacks," said Mgr Ignatius Kaigama, archbishop of Jos, Nigeria, who spoke to AsiaNews about the violence perpetrated by the Islamist group Boko Haram in the Central African nation.

The prelate said the world has to show more determination to halt the group's advance in Nigeria. For him, the international community has to show the same spirit and resolve it showed after the attacks in France.

His warning comes after three young female suicide bombers, one reportedly aged 10, killed 20 more people in Maiduguri and Potiskum.

The Nigerian army too has called for the intervention of the international community against Boko Haram, to avert further bloodshed like the incident on 3 January in the city of Baqa, in the northeast of the country.

When the Islamists raided the town, which is in Borno State, they killed hundreds and forced tens of thousands to flee. So far there is no final count, but more than 2,000 people have been already killed.

According to a Nigerian military, concerted action is needed to eliminate the evil of boko Haram. Similarly, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon said he was appalled by reports of the killings in Baga and condemned what he called "the depraved acts of Boko Haram terrorists".

For the archbishop of Jos, actions must target the growing violence in the African country, which threatens to plunge it into chaos. "Do not forget that we are here, that we are suffering," Mgr Kaigama explained, "that many people have been killed, that many have become displaced" and are in need of help.

For the prelate, Boko Haram is growing. "They captured local governors. They are hitting their targets. They have increasingly sophisticated weapons. They have adopted different strategies to attack ordinary people" and use even girls and boys.

"Muslims in Nigeria do not support and do not encourage this type of violence," Mgr Kaigama noted. Many imams have spoken out on several occasions to condemn the attacks. They are "speaking in an increasingly loud and clear voice against Boko Haram, but we need greater determination to halt terrorism."

"The problem is not a clash between Christians and Muslims," the prelate explained. We have "an Islamist terrorist group that attacks anyone who stands in its way or does not work with them wholeheartedly."

"Attacks are increasing. For this reason, security must be beefed up," he said. "We hope that the government and leaders of the international community will do something to put an end to the violence."

In October, Nigerian authorities announced a possible cease-fire with Boko Haram terrorists, in connection with the possible release of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, in Borno, last April. The truce would have allowed the country to hold presidential and legislative elections in February.

However, the self-styled leader of the Islamist movement, Abubakar Shekau denied that any deal was in the works, and violence continues unabated.

Founded in 2002, the extremist group fought first against Western education. Loosely translated, in Hausa Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden".

Since 2009, it has launched attacks and carried out military actions with the aim of creating an Islamic state.

Its operations have claimed thousands of lives, particularly in north-eastern Nigeria, targeting police and security forces. It has even attacked UN offices in the capital Abuja.

So far, at least three million people have been affected in various ways by Islamist violence. (DS)


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