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14 January 2015

The West must act against the 'religious cleansing' of Nigeria

The West must act against the 'religious cleansing' of Nigeria

Release International is urging Nigeria to protect its vulnerable Christian minority in the north, as a further 2,000 people are thought to have been killed by the terrorist group.

The aid charity is warning that the threat from Islamist insurgents in the country amounts to 'religious cleansing'.

Estimates vary from 150 to 2,000 people killed since 3 January, as female suicide bombers, some as young as ten, are now being used as terrorists.

"We must open our eyes to the religious cleansing aspect of the violence that is taking place in Nigeria," warns Paul Robinson, the chief executive of Release.

"Release contacts say many Christians have now been driven from the north as Boko Haram strives to create its brutal version of an Islamic state. While all Nigerians are at risk from violent jihadists, Christians are being singled out as targets."

A Nigerian Archbishop has also accused the West of ignoring Boko Haram.

The Catholic Archbishop of Jos in central Nigeria, Ignatius Kaigama, while speaking to the BBC, said the international community must show the same response to Boko Haram as that seen in France following the attacks last week.

Amnesty International are reporting that the "deadliest massacre" the group have carried out so far occurred on Wednesday, with mostly children, women and elderly people –too many to count –still lying dead on the streets of Baga, a town on the border with Chad.

The Archbishop told the Newsday programme that this attack shows the military are unable to deal with the brutal group, and must by helped by the world.

Archbishop Kaigama said tackling Boko Haram will require the international support and unity seen after last week's attack in France, asking for that "spirit to be spread around".

About 1.5 million people in Nigeria have been displaced by the violence.

The Archbishop called the situation a "monumental tragedy", that's saddened the whole of Nigeria. He also said to the BBC that the country seems "helpless".

Churches have been targeted, especially in Maiduguri where a sizeable Christian community lived, throughout Boko Haram's campaign of terror. The region is in a state of emergency.

It's estimated Boko Haram have destroyed 1,000 churches since 2009. The terrorist group is calling for a caliphate – an Islamic state – in Nigeria.

The Evangelical Alliance leads the Religious Liberty Commission with Open Doors, Release International and Christian Solidarity Worldwide. The RLC released a prayer for the persecuted Church last year, which is available here.