ICMC on Nigeria: Global community cannot stand by as Nigerians lose their lives
By Francesca Merlo
There is grave concern surrounding the human rights situation in Nigeria. Addressing the 51st meeting of the UN Human Right Council, on 26 September, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) stressed that “the global community can no longer stand as disinterested bystanders while Nigerians tragically lose their lives and property and are displaced by violence in many areas of the country.”
The Commission highlighted that the “dimensions of this crisis have been reported by our member organizations and partners on the ground and by the international multilateral agencies, such as the Office of the UN Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.”
Joining other faith-based and other civil society organizations, the ICMC's statement was co-signed by Caritas Internationalis, Caritas Nigeria, Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII, VIDES, IIMA, New Humanity and World Evangelical Alliance.
The organizations echoed "the recent appeal of the Catholic bishops of Nigeria, decrying '… the worsening state of insecurity in our nation as well as activities of terrorists and insurgents, kidnappers and bandits … Attacks on travelers and worshippers in Churches and other places of worship have become too frequent … we continue to call on civil authorities to stand up to their constitutional responsibility of safeguarding the lives and property of Nigerians …'"
The statement concluded by recalling the root causes of violence and appealing for the Nigerian government to protect all people in the country.
"We also encourage the government of Nigeria to strengthen its collaboration with the OHCHR and the HRC’s Special procedures, especially with the mandates on freedom of religion and belief, and on IDPs to effectively protect human rights and prevent further displacement and loss of lives."
Msgr. Robert Vitillo
Speaking to Vatican News about the statement, Msgr. Bob Vitillo, Secretary General of the ICMC, noted that in Northeast Nigeria, as well as other parts of the country, there exists religious extremist violence.
However, he said, "a lot of it is not really religious, because it is false manipulation of religion that these extremists bring."
Msgr. Vitillo added that he has been in contact with many of the bishops and other diocesan officials in Nigeria in areas affected by violence.
Church officials in those places are also in contact with Caritas and ICMC, which "will help the affected diocese with first response aid, because more than a million people in Nigeria have been internally displaced."