Map of Nigeria

‘Tense and troubled’

Life for people in central Nigeria has been tense and troubled since the turn of the century, with many thousands dying as a result of communal violence.

The violence invariably affects those who are the most vulnerable, such as women and children.

The rise of Boko Haram 2009 - present

Boko Haram is an extreme militant Islamist group, with alleged links to groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS. Since 2009 they have had an active presence in North East Nigeria, killing many thousands in terrorist attacks and kidnapping hundreds more between 2009 and 2015.

Boko Haram has led many to flee their homes. A recent survey estimated there are now 2.1 million Internally Displaced Persons around the country - more than half of them children. This has caused widespread humanitarian and economic difficulties, both in Nigeria and neighbouring countries.

The group aims to impose strict Islamic law or Sharia in areas they occupy. However, since the start of 2015 they have been pushed back from many areas by the Nigerian Government forces. There have been an increase in more smaller raids, abductions and suicide bomb attacks particularly since May 2015 when President Buhari was sworn in.

Tearfund is working through partners to provide relief to IDPs, many of whom are living in host communities already stretched. Through our partners we are supporting families by providing food, access to safe water, sanitation and vital essentials; as well as much needed psychosocial support. Many are suffering from being separated from family, witnessing violence and leaving everything behind. Please pray for peace In Nigeria and an end to the violence.

Nigera - displaced boy cooking

Tearfund in Nigeria: promoting peacemaking solutions

While the unrest in parts of the country is painted in terms of Christian/Muslim tensions, the issue goes deeper and dates back far longer than the the troubles of the last few years.

Tearfund is based in the city of Jos in Central Nigeria - whilst also working across the country through our partners. Jos is not directly affected by Boko Haram but there are currently many people displaced by Boko Haram, that have sought refuge in the area.

Tearfund partners are working to build peace between the opposing Christian and Muslim factions. Our partner, Scripture Union West Africa, is involved in peacebuilding through creating opportunities for dialogue between Muslim and Christian leaders. They work with both young and old, particularly those in flashpoint areas around the city.

Young people, who would otherwise risk being drawn into the violence, are the focus of this training. Some of them go on to become peace ambassadors in their communities.

Our partners use sporting activities to bridge divides, with inter-faith football matches and other games, fostering and restoring peace to trouble spots.

Success - a peace agreement

Work between Scripture Union West Africa and Jama’atu Nasril Islam of Jos,  the umbrella body for Muslims in Nigeria, has resulted in the signing of a peace agreement for parts of Central Nigeria including Jos and surrounding regions.

There are indicators that attitudes in the area are changing: when a church was bombed in 2012, young people from the surrounding area who had been in our peace-building sessions were able to persuade others to refrain from revenge attacks.

While elsewhere in Nigeria, Christian/Muslim tensions are at crisis point, the work in this area is a beacon of hope, showing that religious division isn’t inevitable.

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Photo: Ben Osawe/Tearfund

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