International Organisation for Peace and Social Justice (PSJ UK) – Written evidence (ZAF0031)

 

PSJ UK Evidence

 

 

North-Eastern Nigeria is becoming increasingly uninhabitable for Christians, as well as other minorities, due to an upsurge in Islamist violence. According to Open Doors there are 93.8 million Christians in Nigeria, making up 46.7 per cent of the country’s population. Twelve of the northern states are under Sharia (Islamic) law, where life is most difficult for Christians (Open Doors, Nigeria).

 

 

 

These statistics, collected by HART and document in their Nigeria Visit Report of November 2019, have been corroborated by independent journalists on the ground.

 

 

 

Humanitarian and religious organisations have expressed further concerns about Nigeria:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arguments that the emerging crisis for Christians and other minority believers in North-Eastern Nigeria is due to climate change or economic considerations fail to account for the ideological and religious underpinnings of the violence:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nor is the emerging crisis particular only to Nigeria:

 

 

The emerging threat may well engulf the Sahel in a short space of time if little is done to mitigate it. The UK has only recently committed 250 British soldiers to Mali, and 30 to Senegal, where they are training special forces from across West Africa in a US-led counter-terrorism exercise involving more than 1,600 troops.

 

The BBC reports (Defence correspondent Jonathan Beale, 2 March 2020):

 

Maj John House has been leading the British element of the training in Senegal with the focus on infantry skills and counter-terrorism operations. 

 

He said it was in Britain's interests to get more involved in the region. 

 

"If we don't act we may find the problems getting closer to our door," he said. "The more they have a presence in the region, the more we can feel the effect back in the UK.” 

 

Officers from US Special Operations Command Africa, which has been responsible for overseeing the exercise, are just as blunt.

 

US Maj Chris Giaquinto said the extremists "want to create a safe haven in Africa in order to grow and facilitate attacks, possibly in Europe or the United States".

 

There are now multiple extremist groups operating across the sub-Saharan region known as the Sahel. They include ones linked to the so-called Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

 

Commander Djibril Diawara, of the Senegalese Armed Forces, described the situation as "alarming".

 

Over the past year the extremists have spread south from Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

 

PSJ UK maintains that a strong Africa is a safe and peaceful Africa for all. Any long-term development programme for the Continent must factor in firstly the peace and security of all citizens.

 

Formulated as questions, PSJ UK proposes five core areas in which the Inquiry can inform and pressurise the Government’s policymaking with general regard to sub-Saharan Africa, and in particular Nigeria, with which the UK has maintained a special relationship:

 

  1. In light of the Nigerian Government’s admission that Christians are being targeted in Northern Nigeria, will the British Government move a UN resolution to send in Peace Keeping forces to protect vulnerable communities and citizens in Nigeria?

 

  1. Will the UK renew its offer to assist in the search and rescue of Leah Sharibu, an ISIS captive for two years now, and others abducted and enslaved in Nigeria?

 

  1. Will the UK Government join forces with the Americans to send in physical and technological observers to the conflict zones, as the UK and France does in Mali?

 

  1. Will the UK Government focus more or most of its International Development Aid to Nigeria to assist the victims and the vulnerable from Nigeria’s insecurity crisis? Will it use a large percentage of its aid budget to Nigeria for providing more direct assistance to internally displaced persons living in poor conditions and for enhancing security provision for vulnerable communities and people including the Christian communities in the North East and Middle Belt where they have been particularly targeted (even by the Nigerian Government’s own admission)?

 

  1. Heading the PM’s call for increased post-Brexit trade and investments in Nigeria, what security advice and warnings are the FCO and DIT offering to British investors?

 

Received 27 March 2020