Christians displaced by Boko Haram being denied food, relief goods in Nigerian refugee camps

Refugees get food at a refugee camp in Nigeria.Reuters

Troubles are piling up on the beleaguered Christians in Nigeria. Already the target of persecution by the savage Boko Haram terrorist group, the Christians who have been displaced from their homes by the Islamist extremists are also being subjected to discrimination in the displacement camps run by local Muslim organisations, the Christian persecution watchdog Open Doors U.K. has revealed.

In some instances, Muslim relief workers are telling Christian refugees coming to their camps that food and relief goods are "not for Christians," said Bishop William Naga, who fled his home in Borno state.

Emily Fuentes, the communications director for Open Doors U.S.A., attested to the discrimination being suffered by Christian refugees. In an interview with The Christian Post, she explained that although Christians are the main targets of Boko Haram militants, the latter also prey on their fellow Muslims in the Muslim-majority region of northeast Nigeria, prompting these Muslims to also seek refuge in the displacement camps.

Because of this, Muslim organisations running the camps feel inclined to give Muslims "preferential treatment," Fuentes said.

"Christians often get pushed to the back of the line," she said. "Because Muslims are the majority there, even non-extremist Muslims, some of their neighbours 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."

To help ease the plight of Christian refugees in Nigeria, Christian churches and other organisations have begun setting 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," said John Gwamma, the head of an informal Christian camp.

Fuentes said unlike the camps where Christians are discriminated against, the camps they are setting up will be open not only to Christians but to other people as well, regardless of their faith.

On its latest World Watch list, Open Doors ranks Nigeria as the 12th worst Christian-persecuting country in the world.

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