Christians dislodged in Nigeria by Boko Haram terrorists are being deprived of access to food and assistance at displacement camps run by local Muslim organizations, according to Christian persecution watchdog group, Open Doors USA.
More than 2 million residents were forced to flee from their Sub-Saharan Africa homes in the last eight years due to terrorists' acts. Open Doors USA spokespeople indicate as many as 1.8 million people in Nigeria are facing starvation.
Representatives of the Christian humanitarian organization said there are a number of camps where Christians are being discriminated against and, in some instances, being told 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 UK. "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."
Emily Fuentes, communications director for Open Doors USA, told The Christian Post that although Christians are being explicitly targeted by Boko Haram, northeast Nigeria is a Muslim-majority region. Because Muslims also are being attacked, Muslim organizations running the camps reportedly feel inclined to give Muslims "preferential treatment."
"Christians often get pushed to the back of the line," Fuentes said.
"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."
An ongoing effort by Christians, churches and other organizations to set up displacement camps for Christians has been underway, reports CP.
"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 UK. "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."
Fuentes told CP that although these camps were set up to aid displaced Christians, all displaced people are welcome, no matter their faith.
She said churches have been making an effort for several years to take in some of the displaced. "It has been an ongoing effort. Open Doors works with partners in this country. We have been able to work with them in getting assistance for the displaced, helping them build homes, food, other vital things that displaced people are in need of."
Fuentes said Open Doors also helps widows of men who have been killed by Boko Haram receive job-skills training. She added that in some instances, the organization has provided widows with micro loans to help them start their own businesses.