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Image: Some refugees are resorted to eat leaves in order to survive.

 

Since October, Open Doors has provided lifesaving food aid for 3,000 families – approximately 15,000 people – who have been displaced by Boko Haram violence, with some resorting to eating leaves in order to survive.

“We had to flee Boko Haram because they didn’t allow us to go to our farm,” said Mary Charles, one of those who received aid. “We had no drinking water and we didn’t have anything to eat. But I take courage from the Bible. It is written that there is a time when we will suffer, but that the suffering will end by the grace of God. We have to endure.

“I thank God for this food aid and I thank the people who brought it. We now have food that we can give to our children. We didn’t have anything to give them.”

Jack van Tol, Open Doors Director for West Africa, said, “We’re very grateful to be able to assist families who were suffering so much. Reports reached us through our church networks that many Christians were in dire need of food aid. Many had resorted to eating leaves. There seems to be general shortage of food aid in the northeast, and Christians testified they were discriminated against in general camps. Through the churches we were able to assist them.”

The packages provided by Open Doors consisted of 100 kilos of maize, 50 kilos of beans, four blankets and some cash to buy oil or soap. These packages are lifesaving assistance that will help these families survive for the next few months, thanks to the prayers and gifts of people like you.

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Image: Packages of food. Since October, Open Doors has provided lifesaving food aid for 3,000 families – approximately 15,000 people.

 

FLEEING BOKO HARAM

Many of the families supported by Open Doors are from Gwoza, the city declared by Boko Haram as the capital of their ‘caliphate’ in 2014. Bishop William Naga, leader of the Borno chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said, “Christians in Borno State are traumatised, displaced and truly they have lost hope. In the Gwoza area there is no single church standing. In the eastern part of Gwoza Christians were a majority. And even inside Gwoza town and in its surroundings there were many Christians. Now there are no Christians left in that area.”

While many areas have been retaken by the Nigerian army, the situation is still unstable. “Only the bigger towns are fully under the control of the Nigerian army,” Bishop Naga says. “The outskirts of these towns and villages in the state are not safe. Boko Haram is still in control of big parts of the Borno State. We cannot go back there now.”

DISCRIMINATION IN REFUGEE CAMPS

Christians are gathering in informal camps due to the discrimination they have faced in official camps. Bishop Naga said, “The governor did his best when the Christians had to flee their places in 2014 and 2015. But when the care of the camps was handed over to other organisations, the discrimination started. They will give food to the refugees, but if you are a Christian they will not give you food. They will even openly tell you that the relief is not for Christians. There is an open discrimination.”

STAND WITH OUR CHURCH FAMILY IN NIGERIA

Here are three ways you can support our Nigerian brothers and sisters:

Pray. Bishop Naga says, “Christians all over the world, we yearn for their prayers. One, we want them to pray for God to give us hearts to forgive and to love our Muslim brothers.

“Secondly, we want them to pray for us Christians to seek the face of God to ask for strength to start our lives afresh.

“Thirdly, let our brothers continue to pray for us that we will not give up our faith, but that we will continue in our faith dynamically, strongly, vibrant and bold. Most of our places everything has been looted, churches have been burned down. Our livelihood has been taken away from us. But there is one thing that has been not taken away: our faith in Christ Jesus has not been taken away from us.”