Aid to the Church in Need International is dedicating this year’s Lent campaign to the situation faced by Christians in Nigeria with its campaign “SOS Christians in Nigeria”. ACN will be shining a spotlight on the plight of Christians in Africa’s most populous countries.
Together with the bishops whose dioceses are most affected by the violence, ACN has created a programme to strengthen the local Church in Nigeria. The pontifical charity has committed five million Euros for this programme – which includes five specific dimensions:
i) Keeping our Project Partners Safe
ii) Building Peace through interreligious dialogue and formation
iii) Caring for the victims of violence
iv) Strengthening the Church in its Outreach
v) Supporting Prayer for Peace, Healing and Forgiveness
The situation in Nigeria is very complex, as factors of violence often overlap. For example, the issue of conflicts over land is as old as human society, but there is fear that it has been exacerbated by religious radicalisation. For this reason and to better understand the situation of Nigeria, ACN has prepared two documents to be distributed among benefactors, journalists and other interested people.
The first one, “Nigeria at the crossroads”, is a thorough 40-page country report, that gives a general overview of the situation and explains in detail how many factors affect the nation. It provides comprehensive ethnic, religious, geographical, political and historical background information, as well as mapping the existing situations of tension and conflict in Nigeria.
The second document “Nigeria: a bleeding wound” consists of 26 first-hand witnesses and testimonies of religious persecution, including victims of Boko Haram, Fulani herder attacks, kidnappings and attacks on churches, such as the tragic Pentecost Sunday massacre which occurred in June 2022.
As Bishop Jude Arogundade of Ondo reminded to the participants of the third annual International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit in Washington, D.C., Nigeria, because of its economic and demographic weight, “is the anchor of Africa. And if Nigeria falls, the whole of Africa falls.” This is why ACN has renewed its commitment to help the Church in Nigeria through its 2023 Lent campaign.