Christians are being 'driven from north Nigeria' by Islamist militants

The UK church has been urged to pray for persecuted Christians in Nigeria on Sunday's International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

Nigeria is the focus of Release International's prayers for the day. According to a Release partner in Nigeria, attacks by Islamist Fulani militants are continuing to have a devastating effect on Christians. 'In the first six months of 2018, some 6,000 people have been killed and close to 50,000 displaced. The escalation of killings is very clear,' the partner said.

Archbishop Ben Kwashi has called on the government to intervene.

Another Release partner, Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi, has repeatedly called for the government to protect Christians in northern Nigeria against the increasing attacks: 'I am raising an alarm – if the government will listen,' he said.

Last month, on October 18, militants killed dozens of Christians in a market place in Kaduna and burned down a church. The death toll is said to have exceeded 50.

On November 9, armed herdsmen killed seven farmers in Kaduna before fleeing to what police described as a no-go area.

'How could Nigeria allow no-go areas where militants can hide?' asked Paul Robinson, Release International's chief executive.

Release believes the attacks point to a long-running campaign to drive Christians out of the north of Nigeria.

'These murderous raids beg important questions,' Robinson said. 'Why is the military apparently powerless to stop the slaughter of unarmed farmers? Who is arming and training these Fulani militants? And whose agenda does this killing of mainly Christian communities serve?

'It all points to a strategy to drive out Christians from the north. The government of Nigeria must act now to protect its vulnerable Christian communities in the north.'

Release has produced video, PowerPoint and other resources as a focus for prayer on November 18. Release has also launched a Christmas Appeal to help Nigerian Christians.