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Boko Haram Killings Prompt Nigerian Bishop to Start Apostolate to Widows

Children in Nigeria

© Laurent LARCHER/CIRIC

Vatican Radio - published on 09/04/14 - updated on 06/08/17

Diocese is epicenter of Islamist violence.

The Diocese of Maiduguri in Northeast Nigeria is the epicenter of Boko Haram terrorist activities. The deaths and destruction in the diocese have taken such a toll that Bishop Olive Doeme Dashe has been forced to start a new apostolate to widows and orphans.

Boko Haram is an Islamist sect which has vowed to establish a caliphate in Northern Nigeria.

Fides news agency reported that more than 30,000 people are at the border between Nigeria and Cameroon, most fleeing the advancing front of Boko Haram. Fleeing inhabitants of the city of Kerawa in the Nigerian state of Borno said that at least 60 persons, mainly Christians and soldiers, were brutally slaughtered by Boko Haram warriors. On the other side of the border the Cameroon city with the same name Kerawa was also attacked and its people forced to flee to shelter in the city of Kolofata.

In Kerawa, Cameroon, there is a concentration of Christians who fled Nigerian villages, and these are followed by Muslims fleeing from Gwoza department, also in Borno state. From Borno come contradictory reports of occupation by Boko Haram of the city of Bama, considered strategic since it would open the way to the conquest of the local capital, Maiduguri.

There, the Diocese of Maiduguri is said to be looking after 2,000 women widowed as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency in the three Northeastern States of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa. The number of widows is set to grow as more women come forward to seek assistance.

Bishop Olive Doeme Dashe told the widows at a gathering that their husbands who have been martyred by Boko Haram are also praying for them. He spoke of how touched he was after listening to some of the difficult experiences, in a one-on-one session with some of the widows.

The Diocese of Maiduguri said recently that between 2009 and 2014, several hundred people have been killed by Boko Haram in three states in northeastern Nigeria. More than 50 Catholic churches and rectories have been burned down. The terrorism has left more than 90,000 internally displaced persons and serious disruption to the education of children and youth.

All schools in the diocese have been adversely affected as many people flee the insecurity in the area. Several schools have ceased to operate including nine Catholic schools. Three Catholic schools are among the many that have been burned down. There has been an incredible mass exodus of people from the region to other parts of Nigeria and even to neighboring countries.

Many teachers have deserted their teaching posts for fear of the terrorists. The few teachers who still remain in Catholic schools live in constant fear of attacks from Boko Haram. Apart from that, they also now have to contend with reduced salaries because the schools have fewer students and therefore school fees have dwindled. The youth in these communities have fled for fear of being forcibly conscripted as members of Boko Haram.

Tags:
Boko HaramChristians in the Middle EastIslamNigeriaTerrorism
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