(PHOTO: OPEN DOORS)

Christians displaced by the brutal Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria are being denied access to food and vital assistance at a number of displacement camps run by local Muslim organizations, according to a leading Christian persecution watchdog.

As Boko Haram continues its reign of terror in Sub-Saharan African nation, over 2 million residents have been forced to flee from their homes in the last eight years since the terror group’s uprising. According to the Christian humanitarian organization Open Doors USA, as many as 1.8 million people in Nigeria are currently facing starvation.

While there are several displacement camps set up throughout the country to aid those vulnerable, displaced and hungry families, there are a number of camps where Christians are being discriminated against and, in some instances, being told that the food and relief “is not for Christians.”

“The governor did his best when the Christians had to flee in 2014 and 2015. But when the care of the camps was handed over to other organizations, the discrimination started,” Bishop William Naga, who fled his home in the Borno state, told Open Doors U.K. “They will give food to the refugees, but if you are a Christian they will not give you food. They will openly tell you that the relief is not for Christians.”

In an interview with The Christian Post, Emily Fuentes, the communications director for Open Doors U.S.A., explained that although Christians are being explicitly targeted by Boko Haram, northeast Nigeria is a Muslim-majority region. Since Muslims are also being attacked, Muslim organizations running the camps feel inclined to give Muslims “preferential treatment.”

“Christians often get pushed to the back of the line,” Fuentes explained. “Because Muslims are the majority there, even non-extremist Muslims, some of their neighbors are typically going to get preferential treatment by those providing food and assistance because of their Muslim faith. Christians might be discriminated against and some of those cases have been reported. It’s just preferential treatment because they are not the majority religion in that part of the country.”

Fuentes said that even though the discrimination against Christians might not occur at all displacement camps in Nigeria, “it is happening prevalently.”

“I cannot say it is happening in all of them by any means. But we have heard of many cases,” she stated.

Because of the discrimination Christians are facing at displacement camps, there has been an ongoing effort by Christians, churches and other organizations to set up displacement camps for Christians, which are being supported by Open Doors and its local partners on the ground.

“We have started informal, purely Christian camps because Christians were being segregated in the formal camps. They had not been given food, or allowed to go to church,” John Gwamma, chairman at an informal Christian camp, told Open Doors U.K. “There is a term called ‘arne,’ meaning pagan, meaning you are pagan and not a Muslim. And as long as you are not a Muslim, we don’t like you to stay together with us.”

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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Samuel Smith