Fulani Militants Raid Village, Kill 28 Women and Children

Villagers Hiding in School, Found by Militants and Slaughtered

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Fulani militants raided Nkedoron community in Plateau State, Nigeria. During this raid, the militants attacked and killed at least 28 people, mostly Christians, including many women and children. This struggle between Fulani militants and Christian farmers has been an ongoing and bloody struggle for years. As the Fulani continue to migrate south, militants clash with more Christian villages. This year alone, there have been more than 30 attacks on these Christian villages, leaving more than 250 killed and hundreds of homes burned down.

Rev. Andrew Okebe, the Zonal Coordinator of Christian Association of Nigeria, Miango District, told ICC, “The soldiers had told the women and children to go and hide in the primary (elementary) school class at night while the men in the village constituted a vigilante group and join[ed] the soldiers in patrolling the area. Sadly, the militia descended and the soldiers fled, leaving the defenseless villagers to be massacred by the terrorists.”

According to Rev. Okebe, these persistent attacks have left villagers feeling like the security operatives assigned to their communities are not committed to protecting and securing their lives from the aggressors whom they believe to be Islamic jihadists who want occupy their land. This attack followed only a few weeks after a Fulani militia invaded Ancha, a neighboring village to Nkedoron, where 20 members of a Baptist church were murdered in cold blood.

The most disturbing part of this attack is that there were members of the military stationed in the village. These soldiers are a part of Operation Safe Haven, which is the government’s attempt to confront the Fulani militant violence in the Middle Belt. Even though these soldiers were on the scene before the attack, they did nothing to prevent this terrible atrocity. It has left many questioning the dedication of these men to protecting the communities they are charged with protecting.

ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Nathan Johnson, stated, “We pray for those who are suffering the pain of loss. This unbelievable act of violence is becoming all too common for Christian villages in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region. The government of Nigeria must not only condemn the violence, but take the necessary steps to ensure that the perpetrators are punished and unable to commit these acts again. Until then, Christian villagers in the Middle Belt will be left to wonder if their community will be next.”

Source: International Christian Concern

SOMALIA: AT LEAST 230 DEAD IN MOGADISHU BLAST

A massive bomb attack in a busy area of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday is now known to have killed at least 230 people, police say.
Hundreds more were wounded when a lorry packed with explosives detonated near the entrance of a hotel.

It is the deadliest terror attack in Somalia since the Islamist al-Shabab group launched its insurgency in 2007.
It is not clear who staged the bombing, but Mogadishu is a target for al-Shabab militants battling the government.

 

President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed has declared three days of mourning for the victims of the blast.
Local media reported families gathering in the area on Sunday morning, looking for missing loved ones amid the ruins of one of the largest bombs ever to strike the city

The death toll continues to rise after the deadly blast

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP news agency the death toll is likely to rise. “There are more than 300 wounded, some of them seriously,” he said.
Officials also confirmed that two people were killed in a second bomb attack in the Madina district of the city.

A BBC Somali reporter at the scene of the main blast said the Safari Hotel had collapsed, with people trapped under the rubble.
An eyewitness, local resident Muhidin Ali, told news agency AFP it was “the biggest blast I have ever witnessed, it destroyed the whole area”.
Meanwhile, the director of the Madina Hospital, Mohamed Yusuf Hassan, said he was shocked by the scale of the attack.
“Seventy-two wounded people were admitted to the hospital and 25 of them are in very serious condition. Others lost their hands and legs at the scene.
“What happened yesterday was incredible, I have never seen such a thing before, and countless people lost their lives. Corpses were burned beyond recognition.”

There are fears people are trapped under the rubble

In a statement, the US Mission to Somalia said: “Such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.”
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “My thoughts are with families of the victims, and the government and people of Somalia at this difficult time.
“Those responsible have shown no regard for human life or the suffering of the Somali people. The UK will continue to support Somalia in the fight against terrorism.”

Source: BBC News

SUDAN CHURCH LEADER INTERROGATED AFTER REFUSING TO HAND PROPERTY TO STATE

Sudanese police have detained and questioned eight church leaders in the last six weeks in what observers fear is an ongoing campaign by the government to seize control of the country’s churches.

State officials have confiscated church buildings and are harassing church leaders to exert control over the country’s small Christian minority

Several churches received notifications last year that their buildings would be demolished. They are situated in the Bahri, Soba and Jebel Aulia regions of Khartoum. Officials apparently told the churches their land had been assigned for investment. Church leaders have requested a removal of the orders

Local sources told World Watch Monitor that officials arrested Mahjoub Abotrin, a senior leader within the Sudan Church of Christ (SCOC), from his home in Omdurman, near the capital, Khartoum, on 22 September. He was interrogated before he was released, and at the time of publication it is not clear whether he has been charged with any offence.

World Watch Monitor understands that he was arrested because he refused to hand over leadership of the Sudanese denomination to government-appointed officials.Several denominations in Sudan are fighting efforts by the Sudanese government to take control of their affairs, as state-appointed committees try to oust church-appointed leadership.

The constitution of the 12,000-member Reformed Church calls for a general assembly every three years to appoint leaders, and the current leadership’s term expires next March.

Last month security officials told four other members of SCOC’s leadership committee they could expect charges to be brought against them after they refused to hand over the Church’s office premises to a committee of government officials.

In August, seven senior SCOC leaders were arrested and held by police for a day, including its head of missions, Rev Kuwa Shamal, moderator Rev Ayoub Mattan, finance secretary Abdulbagi Ali Abdulrahaman, deputy finance secretary El-Amin Hassam Abdulrasool and church leaders Yagoub Naway and Musa Kodi.

The men were reportedly interrogated and released on bail.

Rev. Shamal was previously detained in December 2015, with three others, but was released in January this year because of a lack of evidence. The two others arrested in 2015, Hassan Taour and Abdulmonem Abdumawla, were eventually released in May after the Czech aid worker Petr Jašek was set free in February, following intervention by his government and the EU Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Sudanese authorities are engaged in a campaign of intimidation against the country’s Christian minority, which includes the gradual confiscation of properties.

State-sponsored persecution of Christians in Sudan has increased since the Christian-majority south seceded from the Muslim-majority north in 2011.

Source: World Watch Monitor

Former refugee from South Sudan to address Brussels education gathering

By Helen Womack

UNHCR-supported initiative aims to provide 100 scholarships a year to enable refugee and internally displaced students to attend UWC colleges worldwide.

The United World Colleges (UWC) has extended access to education for refugees. © UWC

A former refugee from South Sudan will be the keynote speaker at a presentation in Brussels on Friday of an initiative by United World Colleges (UWC) to extend access to education for refugees.

The UWC Refugee Initiative, supported by UNHCR, aims to provide 100 scholarships a year to enable refugee and internally displaced students to attend one of 17 UWC colleges worldwide teaching the International Baccalaureate.

UNHCR is supporting UWC by providing authoritative guidance on refugee policy, technical advice and helping to promote the scholarship program among refugee communities and relevant stakeholders. With its mandate to protect refugees, UNHCR considers it a priority that refugees are included in national education systems and have access to education at all levels, including secondary education.

Fewer than one percent of refugees attend university.

Lack of access to education is a major issue affecting young refugees. Of the 17.2 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, half are children. A recent UNHCR report on refugee education showed that over 3.5 million refugee children aged 5 to 17 were unable to attend school in the last academic year. Obstacles increase as children grow. While 84 percent of adolescents globally attend secondary school, the figure falls to 22 percent for refugees. And fewer than one percent of refugees attend university, compared to 34 percent globally.

The education of these young refugees is crucial to the peaceful and sustainable development of the countries that have welcomed them, and to their homes when they are able to return. Yet compared to other children and adolescents around the world, the gap in opportunity for refugees is growing ever wider.

UWC was founded in 1962 with a mission to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. Today, UWC has 17 schools on four continents. UWC’s students are selected by 159 national committees worldwide on the basis of potential only and independent of socio-economic means. Currently, UWC is able to grant around 30 scholarships under the UWC Refugee Initiative per academic year but wants to increase the available funds to cover at least 100 scholarships. Among others, refugees from Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Colombia, Yemen or Afghanistan will benefit from the UWC Refugee Initiative.

“We believe in the power of civic leadership. And we believe that education can be the force developing and encouraging young leaders.” said UWC in a statement. “With the UWC Refugee Initiative, we want to make our contribution to strengthening emerging young leaders from refugee communities. We will provide them with scholarships to receive a world-class secondary education together with other students from all walks of life. We will equip them with the attitudes and skills needed to be able to contribute to the peaceful future of their communities and regions.”

The UWC Refugee Initiative, supported by UNHCR, aims to provide 100 scholarships a year to enable refugee and internally displaced students to attend one of 17 UWC colleges worldwide teaching the International Baccalaureate. © UWC

UNHCR said cooperation with UWC was an example of the type of new partnerships needed to advance a comprehensive response and achieve better protection and long-lasting solutions for refugees. This echoes the global call of the New York Declaration for Refugee and Migrants to expand complementary pathways of admission for refugees to third countries and thus widen the options available for those with few prospects of attaining a durable solution, and is paramount for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to ensure quality and protective education for refugee children and young people everywhere.
“Education is key to build anyone’s future.”

“Leaving their home country behind to find safety, refugees have lost the possibility to lead a normal life, stability and hope. Education is key to build anyone’s future. More so for refugees whom we would rob of their future, if we fail to provide adequate education services,” said Michel Gabaudan, UNHCR’s Regional Representative for Western Europe based in Brussels.

Like others, refugees and IDPs are people with skills, talents and aspirations. Educated refugees and IDPs can become self-reliant and provide leadership in displacement, and in rebuilding communities recovering from conflict, promoting gender equality, peaceful coexistence, and broader community development, including in areas of return and in host countries.

Among the speakers at the Brussels meeting will be Joseph Nakuwa, an alumnus of UWC, who co-founded the South Sudan Young Leaders’ Forum. Through this forum, the South Sudan diaspora are able to deliberate the problems afflicting their homeland and discuss ways to turn the country from conflict to peace and development. Other refugees attending the event included one Syrian refugee who is currently studying at the UWC college in Germany and two others refugees from South Sudan and Ethiopia currently studying at the UWC college in Italy.

For more information, please contact: Maria Bances del Rey bances@unhcr.org and Philine Nau philine.nau@uwcio.uwc.org

Source:UNHCR

Nigeria: calm returns to Jos after eruption of violence that threatened the nation

Jos is seen almost as a miniature Nigeria, comprising almost all ethnic groups, but actually dominated by three predominantly Christian tribes, with the headquarters of many Nigerian Churches in Jos. (World Watch Monitor)

A sense of normality has returned to the city of Jos, in Nigeria’s central Plateau State, after an eruption of inter-religious violence claimed at least three lives on 14 September.

One of them was Jerry Binkur, a final-year student at the University of Jos, who was a member of COCIN Church.

Several others were injured in attacks by a mob. One of them died from his wounds in the hospital, but his name is yet to be confirmed.

Professor Timothy O. Oyetunde, Dean of the School of Postgraduate Studies, was another of those attacked, at about 6.30pm.

According to his statement, the Christian professor was about to leave the university, when suddenly some Muslim youths armed with machetes, daggers, and other weapons surrounded his car. They first shattered the windscreen using large stones. Someone in the passenger seat, not yet identified, was stabbed in the chest, while Professor Ema Ema, sitting directly behind Professor Oyetunde, was stabbed in the head. Professor Oyetunde escaped with minor injuries, narrowly avoiding a machete which instead shattered the window glass. His car was later set ablaze.

One of them was Jerry Binkur, a final-year student at the University of Jos, who was a member of COCIN Church.
Jerry Binkur, a final-year student at the University of Jos, was among those killed. (Photo: Tarosa National Body, Instagram)
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been killed in ethnic and religious clashes in Plateau in recent years.

Jerry Binkur, a final-year student at the University of Jos, was among those killed. (Photo: Tarosa National Body, Instagram)

This week a dusk-to-dawn curfew, imposed by the governor last Thursday (14 September), has been relaxed to 10pm to 6am. Still, heavily armed soldiers and police remain on patrol at flashpoints such as Terminus Roundabout (in the city centre), ‎Kataka Market (which acts as a boundary between Muslim and Christian communities), Chobe Junction (a settlement dominated by Christians from the ethnic Igbo people) and Bauchi Road (dominated by Hausa Muslims).

On Sunday (17 September) security was beefed up in churches for fear of attacks. At Living Faith Church, on Recard Road, heavily armed soldiers, police and members of the Nigeria Civil Defence were deployed to prevent violence.

At Faithway Bible Church in the neighbouring city of Bukuru, the congregation prayed for total restoration of peace in Plateau State and across Nigeria. Pastor Theophilus Akaniro‎, who led the prayers, also prayed for Nigeria’s upcoming Independence Day on 1 October.

But in general there was low turnout in local churches last Sunday, perhaps for fear of attacks.

This week, across the city, shops have re-opened, life has resumed, and traffic has returned to the busy Ahmadu Bello Way. ‎Shop owners have expressed relief that normality has been restored.

What triggered the violence?

Thursday’s violence in Jos was triggered by the activism of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a predominantly Igbo group in southeast Nigeria, responsible for killing members of the Muslim Hausa community in the south in pursuit of its agenda.

The ‘Biafran War’ (1967-70) was fought to stop the south-east of Nigeria breaking away, soon after Nigeria’s independence from the British. Now it seems that this cause has re-ignited in the past few years.

IPOB militants and their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, think the Igbos have been marginalised by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. They have repeatedly requested to break away from Nigeria, which the federal government has vehemently resisted.

Last week, the federal government deployed the Nigerian Army (Operation Python Dance) to counter IPOB protests, which had turned violent.

This deployment snowballed into violent confrontation between IPOB militants and the Army, leading to the death of many IPOB members.

This further led to IPOB members attacking the Hausa/Fulani Muslims living in the south-east of Nigeria (Port Harcourt and Umuahia States, in particular) because the IPOB consider Hausa Muslims to be President Buhari’s kinsmen.

Some Hausa Muslims were killed in this violence. This has then led to reprisal attacks across northern states, and in Plateau. (One youth movement, Arewa Youth, in northern Nigeria had in June reiterated its wish for Igbos to be expelled from northern states, giving a three-month deadline, 1 October.)

Why Plateau State matters

Nigeria, the most populous African country, is divided along ethnic and religious lines. The central state of Plateau is located on the fault line between the mainly Muslim north and the Christian and animist south. Some analysts think the Jos attack has the potential to upset the relative calm that has recently prevailed in Plateau, with potential consequences reaching far beyond.

Jos is seen almost as a miniature Nigeria, comprising almost all ethnic groups, but actually dominated by three predominantly Christian tribes (with the headquarters of many Nigerian Churches in Jos); a disruption to the peace in Jos could in turn affect the entire nation, and especially the Christian community in Nigeria.

Before the latest Jos violence, northern youths had previously issued other notices, demanding that all Igbos be kicked out of the northern states. They said that since the Igbos want their own country, they would force them to leave the north.

Some even suspect that that the reprisal attack in Jos against the Igbos was actually orchestrated from the far north because Nigerians would normally expect such attacks to take place in the predominantly Muslim northern cities like Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara, but not in Jos.

It also shows that the recent peace in Plateau is still a very fragile one, and one that could collapse with a little provocation. The massacre of about 20 Christians by Fulani herdsmen, on 7 September, is an illustration.

Widespread condemnation

The violence was unanimously condemned by Christian and Muslim leaders.

“The peace of the State is the peace of the Church and society,” wrote Rev Soja Bewarang, chairman of the Plateau chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in a statement. “Let us all wise up and work collectively to frustrate the designs of criminals in our midst. Information on social media must be verified with security agencies and nobody should take the law into their hands; enough of this madness.”

CAN also called on Igbos in Plateau to remain calm, assuring them that nobody had the right to ask them to leave the state – as some Muslim youths had suggested.

Meanwhile, the Plateau State chapter of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) appealed to members of the Muslim community and the general public to shun acts capable of disrupting the hard-earned peace in the state.

“JNI finds it necessary and of utmost importance to remind us that we in Plateau State had just in the last few years emerged from a decade-long ethno-religious conflict, which left us with unbearable socio-economic and political consequences,” read a statement signed by Sani Mudi, Director of Publicity of the JNI in Plateau.

It continued: “The sad saga of disruption of peace and lawlessness in some parts of the country is not worth our response, except in the exhibition of [a] mature and civil way, trusting that appropriate authorities are capable of responding as the situation warrants. We should therefore cherish our peaceful co-existence and do all within our power to sustain it, regardless of the provocation, as peace is priceless.”

The governor of Plateau, Simon Lalong, last Thursday met with community and religious leaders, and reaffirmed his determination to ensure security for all.

“I want to tell all citizens that their security and welfare as the primary concern of government is assured by the Rescue Administration. I am therefore enjoining all citizens to go about their business with the assurance that their safety is guaranteed,” he said.

Source: World Watch Monitor

Founder of the African Children's Choir, Music For Life and Friends In The West.