Report from Open Doors:
As the coronavirus lockdown brings fresh dangers to Nigeria’s Christians, Open Doors reports on how they are being targeted in opportunistic attacks by Islamist militants – including the killing of a pregnant woman. Government Minister says the UK is sending a further £300 million to help victims – but when will Nigeria act to stop these crimes?
Baroness Sugg, the Department for International Development, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL2908):
Question Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they have distributed funding from the £300 million North East Nigeria Transition to Development Programme since April 2017; how they intend to distribute funding from now until that programme’s end in 2022; who (1) have been, and (2) will be, the beneficiaries of that funding; how qualifying communities are chosen; and how they intend to evaluate (a) the use, and (b) the results, of that funding. (HL2908)
Tabled on: 25 March 2020
The UK has provided lifesaving assistance through the North East Nigeria Transition to Development (NENTAD) Programme over the last three years to support the UN-led Humanitarian Response Plan. Funding has been distributed to UN agencies, two INGO-led consortia and the Red Cross Movement to provide urgent aid to save lives and minimise suffering. To date the UK’s funding distribution has included £125 million for lifesaving food; more than £60 million for nutritious foods and treatment; more than £16 million for informal and emergency education; nearly £19 million to support humanitarian coordination in the North East; more than £17 million for protection support and services and £6 million for access to lifesaving water, sanitation and hygiene. Funding is intended to be distributed until the programme’s end through a range of UN, INGO and Red Cross partners to meet the most critical lifesaving needs. In light of the emerging needs due to Covid-19, partners will be asked to ensure their activities address the risks and urgent impacts of Covid-19 in North East Nigeria.
Previous beneficiaries of the NENTAD programme were identified as being in acute need of lifesaving assistance by the humanitarian community. In 2018/19 NENTAD programme results included reaching 1.6 million people with lifesaving food assistance, providing access to education for 130,000 out-of-school children, the prevention of malnutrition amongst 260,000 children and providing 48,000 people with clean water. The future beneficiaries of the NENTAD programme will continue to be the most vulnerable conflict-affected people in North East Nigeria, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees and affected host communities.
Qualifying communities are selected by humanitarian partners following needs assessments to identify who is most in need of lifesaving support, so that resources can be efficiently prioritised for the most vulnerable. DFID evaluates the use and results of funding through quarterly reviews with implementing partners; field visits to the North East; internal audits and through the DFID Annual Review. The last Annual Review of the NENTAD programme was scored an A. A planned Mid-Term Review of NENTAD has been paused due to Covid-19.
Date and time of answer: 07 Apr 2020 at 12:14
Report from Open Doors:
The coronavirus lockdown is bringing fresh dangers to Nigeria’s Christians. They’re not just dealing with the outbreak of the disease and the economic implications of lockdown, devastating though both these things are. Christians in the Middle Belt of Nigeria are being targeted in opportunistic attacks by Islamist militants.
STAYING AT HOME, VULNERABLE TO ATTACK
Last week, suspected Fulani militants conducted multiple raids on villages in two states north of the capital, Kaduna and Plateau States, killing 32 believers. Villagers were obeying local state directives to keep to their homes, to prevent the spread of the virus, and Christians believe that the attacks were part of a wider agenda to uproot them from the area.
“Around 10pm, the Fulani gunmen arrived in the community and started shooting and burning houses, an operation which lasted till 1am,” said chairman of the Miango Youth Development Association, Mr. Nuhu Nkali in Ancha, Plateau State. As well as the tragic deaths, Nkali added that many people’s homes were destroyed: “So many of our people are now homeless, because their houses have been burnt by the assailants.” Crucial food reserves were also ruined.
In the attacks in Kperie, also in Plateau, militants returned to kill mourners the day after their initial assault. Women and children were among those murdered.
“THEY NEED TO FEEL SAFE”
“These are horrific, opportunistic attacks on people who are defenceless in their homes during lockdown,” said Jo Newhouse, a regional spokesperson for Open Doors. “The government needs to ensure the safety of all Nigerians during the Covid-19 lockdowns and to address the impunity with which attacks continue in certain areas, especially.”
Calling security agents to account, one community leader has said the attack on his village, which saw a pregnant woman killed, ‘could have been prevented’. “We don’t know what we have done to warrant this wickedness against our people,” said Nkali.
“The community made efforts to alert security agents, but nothing was done to prevent it,”
Newhouse added. “If people are going to stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, they need to feel safe from terrible attacks like this.”
Nigeria is number 12 on the World Watch List, and also the country where the most Christians are killed each year. Northern and central Nigeria are the worst affected regions, and attacks like this happen frequently. While Christian communities stay inside to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus, they are even more vulnerable to these sorts of attacks, and less likely to be able to earn money for food.