13 April 2017

Over 200 Chibok girls still missing three years after abduction

Three years on (14.02.17) from the abduction of 275 Chibok schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants, 205 girls are still missing.

Just a few days ago, an Open Doors worker spoke to Yakubu Nkeki Maina, a representative of the Chibok parents. Yakubu said, "We feel deceived by the government. Promises are made publically but nothing is done to make this promise a reality. We are subjected to sleepless nights and pain at heart that is on the increase by the day. We feel cheated. It seems that we cannot count on the government. We look up to God who is able to come to our rescue."

23 of the parents have died since the girls were abducted, and many continue to have stress related health problems. Although the situation in Chibok is slowly improving, life is still difficult for the families of the abducted girls. The Open Doors worker who recently visited Chibok said, "Things looked almost normal, but I soon learned that people are cautious because Boko Haram has recently attacked nearby towns like Mifah, Kautikari, Makalama and Balakle in recent weeks and scores of families have been displaced to Mbalala, 5km from Chibok. In fact I could hear the blaring sirens of military vehicles all the time.

"Markets are operational and three of the thirteen schools in town have reopened partially although parents are terrified of sending their children there after what happened to their daughters. Many pastors have returned to Chibok and church life is becoming stronger. But activities in churches are carried out under heavy security."

Open Doors has been able to provide the Chibok families with food, medical care and trauma care, as well as delivering messages of support from around the world to assure the Chibok families that they have not been forgotten.

Nigeria is number 12 on the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List, the annual ranking of countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. Christians in northern Nigeria have not only faced attack by Boko Haram, but also Hausa-Fulani herdsmen, a traditionally nomadic Islamic tribe. In 12 of the northern states, Sharia (Islamic law) has been implemented, and Christians in these states face discrimination and restrictions in accessing community resources, such as clean water, health clinics and higher education. Displaced Christians often also suffer discrimination when aid is being distributed.

Open Doors partners with the local church to strengthen and equip persecuted Christians in northern Nigeria through training, children's education, community development projects, legal assistance, emergency relief and trauma counselling.

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Note to editors:

For more information call the Open Doors press office on 01993 777377, 01993 777346 or 07484 000 441, or email Tania at taniac@opendoorsuk.org or Beth at bethf@opendoorsuk.org

Information on Open Doors - www.opendoorsuk.org

Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians in over 60 countries for over 60 years. Last year it raised approximately $70 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources. Open Doors UK & Ireland raised over £11 million.

Every year Open Doors publishes the World Watch List - a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. This is produced using detailed information provided by Open Doors co-workers in more than 60 countries, as well as independent experts. Data is gathered on five spheres of life - private, family, community, national and church life- plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence impacting Christians. Persecution in each country is recorded by Open Doors using a point system. Open Doors' research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom. The 2017 World Watch List accounts for the 12 months ending 31 October 2016.

The Open Doors World Watch List is the only instrument that measures the persecution of Christians annually. Its methodology is designed to track how the exercise of the Christian faith gets squeezed in five distinct areas - private life, family life, community life, national life and church life - as well as covering violence such as rapes, killings and church burnings. Dr. Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, Director of Research at Open Doors International, explains why: "It is possible for persecution to be so intense in all areas of life that Christians fear to witness at all. You may find very low levels of violence as a result, because incidents of violent persecution are often a response to acts of witness."