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RC Archbishop of Jos: 'Nigeria needs spirit of Paris'

16 January 2015

by a staff reporter


#BringBackOurGirls: Samuel, the mother of Sarah, one of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, reacts while speaking at a meeting in Abuja to review rescue efforts

#BringBackOurGirls: Samuel, the mother of Sarah, one of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, reacts while speaking at a meeting in Abuja to re...

THE RC Archbishop of Jos, in Nigeria, where Islamic militants have killed many hundreds - possibly thousands - of people in the past week, has called for the same "spirit" to be shown in his country as was displayed by the international community after the Paris attacks.

The Archbishop, the Most Revd Ignatius Kaigama, said that the international community needed to respond to the attacks by Boko Haram in the same manner as it had to the French attacks.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: "We need that spirit to be spread around. Not just when it [an attack] happens in Europe, but when it happens in Nigeria, in Niger, in Cameroon."

He said that "international resources" must be mobilised to "face or confront the people who bring such sadness to many families". He said that the latest attacks had shown that the Nigerian armed forces could not cope.

The RC Bishop of Sokoto, the Rt Revd Matthew Hassan Kukah, told the Financial Times this week: "We would have loved to see a situation when the Prime Minister of Britain had a sense of responsibility to mobilise the international community on our side. You get a feeling almost of betrayal."

He said that the French were more willing to leap to the aid of their former colonies than the British.

The World Council of Churches also issued a statement comparing the international response to the French atrocity and the conflict in Nigeria: "As much as the WCC joins in the international solidarity with the people of France in the aftermath of the recent attacks in and near Paris, we are deeply saddened that the tragic events in Nigeria have not attracted equivalent international concern and solidarity," the statement said.

"A mindset which deploys young children as bombs, and which indiscriminately slaughters women, children, and elderly people, is beyond outrage, and disqualifies itself from any possible claim to religious justification."

An attack by the militants on the border town of Baga, earlier this month, killed up to 2000, reports from witnesses say, although the military in Nigeria has insisted that the number who died was about 150. Amnesty International has described the attack as the "deadliest massacre" in the conflict to date.

Suicide bombers also struck in the region last weekend, killing dozens more civilians. One of the suicide attacks is said to have been by a ten-year-old girl, who killed at least 19 people when she blew herself up at a market.

The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has condemned the use of the girl as a "depraved act" by the militants, and promised "all available means and resources" to help end the bloodshed.

The executive director of UNICEF, Anthony Lake, said: "These images from northern Nigeria should be searing the conscience of the world. Words alone can neither express our outrage, nor ease the agony of all those suffering from the constant violence in northern Nigeria." He said that the attacks "should galvanise effective action. For this cannot go on."

The UN refugee agency has reported that the number of Nigerian refugees seeking safety in Chad has almost quadrupled over the past ten days, after attacks by Boko Haram uprooted about 7300 Nigerians, and forced them into western Chad.

A spokesperson for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the attack on the town of Baga alone caused 3400 people to flee to Chad.

"The Government of Chad has requested international assistance," the spokesperson said. "The Chadian government has sent a mission and a medical team to the areas, and is providing food assistance and other basic supplies."

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