Sunday, December 1, 2013

Refugees Victimized in Nigerian Violence

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

FAIRFAX, VA. (ANS) -- On Nov. 13, members of the terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped Father Georges Vandenbeusch, a French parish priest of Nguetchewe.

Ann Buwalda and Emmanuel Ogebe visit Nigerian refugees
Vandenbeusch was kidnapped in north Cameroon and later transferred to Nigeria.

In a letter to supporters, Ann Buwalda, executive director of the Jubilee Campaign said a statement from Boko Haram demands the release of Boko Haram members jailed in compensation for Vandenbeusch's life.

Buwalda said this kidnapping is only a small piece of what seems like an insurmountable problem in northern Nigeria and its neighbor Cameroon, as the violence spills over.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered 8,000 refugees from Nigeria in Cameroon, near the area where the priest was abducted. 

Another 2,000 refugees have been registered in Niger and Chad.

Last month, Jubilee Campaign members Emmanuel Ogebe and Buwalda traveled to visit with Nigerian Christian refugees who have fled to the neighboring country of Cameroon from the terrorist atrocities inflicted on them in Borno State since May 25 of this year.

Due to the active Boko Haram terrorist attacks taking place within various pa rts of Borno State it was too dangerous for Ogebe and Buwalda to go directly there. Instead, they traveled through the adjacent Adamawa State to meet with refugees just across the state line in Gwoza.

A number of pastors brought refugees hiding in neighboring Cameroon back across the border to meet with us. While official United Nations reports mention ten thousand Nigerian refugees, there are reports of many unregistered refugees.

The team interviewed widows and others from the group of over 150 refugees who waited more than a day for our arrival. The refugees told Jubilee Campaign that on May 25, Boko Haram insurgents first burned down three churches in Gwoza area to test what the authorities would do.

Since nothing was done, the terrorists attacked again and burned down another 24 churches as well as 318 Christian homes, killing several Christians.

Buwalda said when Christian leaders pleaded to the local police for help, they were told to use bows, arrows and stones to protect themselves. As a re sult, all the Christians in the community fled. Although they would like to return to their ancestral homes, they told the team that the lack of proper security makes that impossible.

After distributing clothing brought for refugees, the team encouraged them with words of comfort from the Bible and prayed with them. The same day as this meeting, it was reported that nine people were killed, aside from three more churches that were burned.

Buwalda said these Christians have literally been bombed into the stone-age by Islamist terrorists who burnt their homes and ran them out of their villages in northern Nigeria. They need to start basically from scratch. Just last week 150 more homes were attacked.

UNHCR estimates around 5,000 or higher people have been displaced in northeast Nigeria. Recently, escalating numbers are seeking refuge in neighboring Cameroon.

Cameroon fears its inability to receive the refugees and contain violence. On Oct. 5, Cameroon officials attempted to forcibly return 111 people to northern Nigeria. During the incident 15 were killed and seven others were wounded. The rest quickly fled back to Cameroon and were detained.

Buwalda said, "Jubilee Campaign would like to help them in their desperation. Needs of the refugees include: tents and camping supplies (flashlights, stoves, ponchos, solar lamps, first aid kits, portable toilets, sleeping bags). Neither World Vision, World Relief or Samaritan's Purse are operating in Nigeria therefore, it is a real challenge to get basic relief supplies to distribute to the refugees."

Jubilee Campaign is a nonprofit organization which promotes the human rights and religious liberty of ethnic and religious minorities.

For more information about Jubilee Campaign visit

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