Catholic Parish in Nigeria Struggles to Feed Thousands Uprooted by Violent Attacks

More than a million people have been displaced by the violence, according to some estimates. The vast majority of these people – around 80% – are cared for by the Diocese of Makurdi, Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe said.

But places of refuge like St. Francis Xavier Parish are feeling the pressure. Benue is known as Nigeria’s most productive agricultural state, often referred to as the nation’s breadbasket. Yet many people in the camps are going hungry.

“The federal government rarely sends anything to us,” said Ibaa Terna Jacob, who oversees the humanitarian effort at St. Francis Xavier. “The last time they sent us food was months ago.”

On June 30, Orguze Akaa felt his only option was to hike for three hours and dig for mud-digging fish in a dry creek bed near his abandoned town of Tse-anyion. It was a risky journey, but the once successful farmer wasn’t giving up.

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It cost him his life.

Seventeen others met the same fate, said Adakole Daniel, a local youth leader.

“All the attacks took place while people were looking for their daily meals,” Daniel said in a telephone interview.

Persistent attacks

Bishop Anagbe says the bandits are working in a coordinated manner to clear the densely populated state to make room for herding communities.

“The scale of killing, displacement and wanton destruction of property by these Fulani jihadist militias only reinforces the now revealed agenda to depopulate Christian communities in Nigeria and seize land,” Anagbe wrote in a statement. report published on July 3.

“It is telling that the government currently in power in Nigeria continues to do nothing about these persistent attacks except to give laughable reasons like climate change or that some Muslims, too, are sometimes killed in attacks by so-called saying bandits.

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“Having said the above, I would like to say again that, despite threats of personal harm, especially when people speak out against the wicked Fulani jihadist herdsmen, we will continue to draw the attention of the outside world to the plan Islamists and their sponsors to Islamize Christian territories through these killings and the occupation of land,” Anagbe continued.

“Remember what I said in my previous report that since I became Bishop of Makurdi in 2014 until today, not a day goes by that I do not receive a sad story of murder and displacement of our people by barbaric Fulani herdsmen,” he wrote. “For a few years now, I have not been able to carry out pastoral activities in certain parts of my diocese.”

Thousands of Nigerians displaced by violent attacks by militant herdsmen have taken refuge near St. Francis Xavier Parish in Agagbe, located in north-central Nigeria. Courtesy of Adakole Daniel

From May 1 to June 30, 70 unarmed people in Benue State were murdered by Fulani terrorists, the Bishop said.

The latest attack on July 14 killed three villagers working on a farm near Akakuma village in the Guma local government area, or county, said Nyiakaa Mike, the county chairman.

“There were seven of them working on their farms when the shepherds shot three dead and removed four others,” Mike said in a telephone interview.