11 April 2016

Chibok families in poor health, without schools and struggling to survive, says persecution charity Open Doors

Two years on from the abduction of the Chibok girls, their families are without schools for their children, experiencing medical problems and struggling to support themselves, according to persecution charity Open Doors.

On 14 April 2014, 275 girls, most of them Christian, were at the school in Chibok; a few evaded capture, but most were taken by Boko Haram militants. While 47 have been able to escape, Open Doors contacts believe 228 remain in captivity.

The stress of this trauma and of living with the continuing insecurity in the region has caused medical problems for many of the Chibok parents. Eighteen parents of the abducted Chibok girls have died since the girls were taken.

One of the Chibok fathers, Peter Pogu*, whose daughter Grace was abducted, says: "I am carrying my wife to the hospital and they said she has high blood pressure… Sometimes they (the hospital staff) don't see sickness, they will say, 'It is the thinking within your family'."

While on previous visits Open Doors partners have found Chibok almost deserted, some families have returned and are trying to continue with their lives and cultivate crops to support their families.

However, outlying farms are still in danger of attack by Boko Haram, making them dangerous to access, and markets have been closed, causing farmers to travel long distances to buy and sell.

Schools have also been closed since the abduction of the Chibok girls, meaning that the remaining children of Chibok have not received any education for two years. This does not help to improve their mental health, as they have nothing to distract them from worries about their sisters and their fears for their own safety.

Peter says his children are terrified. "When she (one of his daughters) hears something, she shakes, fearing that Boko Haram will come and abduct her like her sister."

Open Doors has been supporting the families of the Chibok girls through local churches and partners with food, medicine and trauma care.

Pastor Ayuba, whose daughter was Amina was abducted, attended a trauma care seminar. He says: "We are counselled, we are advised, we are comforted. I really liked that. When I went back [home], I tried to pass the knowledge to my church. I organised some people and then began to teach them... They really wanted it."

In 2015, over 4,000 Christians were killed for their faith and 198 churches attacked in Nigeria.

*name changed for security reasons

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Open Doors Uk & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians for 60 years. Last year supporters in the UK and Ireland raised over £11.7 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, in over 60 countries.

Nigeria is number 12 on the Open Doors 2016 World Watch List which ranks the persecution faced by Christians around the world: http://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/worldwatch/nigeria.php