Defending Leah Sharibu and Christian Children in Nigeria at the U.N.
Previously, we told you that through our European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), we filed a critical written submission before the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) regarding the persecution of Christians in Nigeria. In Nigeria, Christians face extreme persecution from Boko Haram. Boko Haram, a jihadist militant group, routinely attacks churches, destroys homes, and even kidnaps Christian school girls in order to marry them to Muslim men.
In our oral intervention before the HRC we brought to their attention the dangers that children, especially Christian children are faced with on a daily basis. We also told the story of Leah Sharibu, who was kidnapped from her boarding school by Boko Haram over a year ago, and still is held captive because she refuses to renounce her Christian faith.
You can read our oral intervention delivered in Geneva at the U.N. below (or watch above):
Children in Nigeria are facing a grave threat due to the atrocities being carried out by Boko Haram. With over 50,000 children orphaned by jihadist violence in Northern Nigeria, children are often preyed upon and weaponized as “suicide bombers.” The U.N. must act now to protect children in Nigeria.
Reports estimate that since 2013 Boko Haram has abducted approximately 1,000 children, killed over 2,000 teachers and destroyed more than 1,400 schools in northeast Nigeria. These attacks and kidnappings have been carried out when children are at school and should feel safe.
15-year-old Leah Sharibu continues to be a prisoner of Boko Haram. She was one of 110 girls kidnapped in February of 2018. Boko Haram killed five of the girls, and the remaining 104 were released. Only Leah remains as a prisoner because she refuses to bend to Boko Haram’s demand that she renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam. This action cannot be tolerated.
As stated by the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Malick Fall, “Children have the right to education and protection, and the classroom must be a place where they are safe from harm.”
Now more than ever it is critical that the U.N. intervene to put a stop to these atrocities. The U.N. Charter calls for the removal of threats to peace, and the Genocide Convention calls upon the U.N. to prevent acts of genocide, not just respond to them. Action must be taken now to demand Leah’s immediate release and to protect Nigeria’s children.
We will continue to advocate on behalf of the imprisoned 15-year-old Leah Sharibu. It is critical that she be released immediately and safely returned to her home. We will also continue to fight on behalf of all Christians in Nigeria to ensure that they are freely able to practice their Christian faith without fear of violence.