Every child deserves the right to go to school and to play outside of their home without the fear of being targeted for abduction or violent abuse because of their faith. But in Nigeria, that fear is very real and ever-present – especially for Christian women and children.
We just took action at the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC), filing our 18th submission to the U.N. since 2013 in defense of persecuted Christians in Nigeria, demanding swift action to protect Nigeria’s dying and persecuted Christians from radical Islamic terrorists.
As we’ve told you, Nigeria has been the epicenter for anti-Christian violence in Africa. When he was Secretary of State under President Trump, ACLJ Senior Counsel for Global Affairs Mike Pompeo designated Nigeria as a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. At that time, Sec. Pompeo placed Nigeria on this persecution watchlist for what he called its government’s toleration of “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.”
Sec. Pompeo is now working directly with the ACLJ to help bring about an end to the heinous persecution and bloodshed against Nigeria’s innocent Christians.
We just filed a written submission to the U.N. HRC through our European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), highlighting the violence against Christian women and children in Nigeria, and specifically reminding the Council once again of the heartbreaking plight of Christian teen Leah Sharibu.
As we’ve told you, Leah was among the 110 Christian schoolgirls abducted by the radical Islamic militia Boko Haram in 2018. Five of those young girls were killed, and 104 were eventually released. But Boko Haram – which has sworn allegiance to ISIS – refused to release Leah because she would not renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam. Her captors vowed to murder Leah or enslave her for life.
As we stated in our U.N. submission:
Since 2013, 17 separate times, the ECLJ has brought to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s attention the genocidal situation Christians in Nigeria have been facing – including young women and school girls like Leah Sharibu. Yet, neither Nigeria nor the U.N. have acted to mitigate the violence. Instead, the situation has only worsened. As we have repeatedly stated, Nigeria is experiencing a horrific humanitarian crisis characterized by violence against women and children at the hands of terrorist group Boko Haram and groups such as the Fulani Herdsmen.
Now, that violence is spreading, and more and more school children are being targeted by groups seeking to obtain ransom money. This Council is very familiar with the devastation that is occurring in Nigeria, given the number of filings that have highlighted the urgency of this situation. It is past time for this Council to mobilise to prevent further harm to thousands more innocent women and schoolchildren at the hands of these jihadists.
The danger to Christians in Nigeria continues to escalate. Christians are gunned down. Christian pastors have been kidnapped and beheaded. And young girls and women are sexually abused and sold into slavery.
We highlighted to the U.N. HRC that Leah just marked her 18th birthday as the captive of these brutal monsters, “marking the fourth year she has spent her birthday imprisoned.” And while it might seem her gut-wrenching situation couldn’t get worse, we have also learned and reported that Leah was recently forced to bear her second child as the hostage of these savage criminals. This Christian girl’s innocent childhood has been completely ripped away by these soulless jihadists.
The entire world should be outraged. Yet Leah’s own government has done little to nothing to help her, despite the desperate pleas of her heartbroken parents. That is why our U.N. HRC submission urged the international community to stand up and take action. Nigeria must be pressured by any means necessary to protect its Christian population – particularly Christian women and girls who face the worst human rights abuses – and to take every action to rescue Leah and her innocent babies who are now being raised by terrorists.
We respectfully remind this Council of the purpose of the United Nations as written in the Charter of the United Nations: “To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression . . . .” It is increasingly evident that Nigeria is unable or unwilling to protect innocent women and children within its borders from these horrific acts of violence. The ECLJ calls upon the U.N. to take the immediate necessary action to stop the violence and prevent further devastation and loss of innocent life.
Christians in Nigeria are living in constant fear of targeted violence and death. For Christian women and girls, it’s a living nightmare. And as we characterized it in our written submission, the Nigerian government has demonstrated a “problematic level of apathy.” Either it can’t stop the violent persecution of Christians, or it simply doesn’t want to. Regardless of its reasons, if the Nigerian government won’t step up and protect them, as it is obligated to do, then the world must hold it accountable, along with the terrorists its inaction is allowing to operate, before it’s too late.
The ACLJ will continue to work tirelessly at the U.N. to demand protection and aid for Nigeria’s dying and persecuted Christians and to urge action to save Leah Sharibu and her babies. We must be their voice.
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