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HART is deeply concerned to hear of the latest brutal violence currently taking place in Plateau and Kaduna Provinces in North-West and Middle Belt regions of Nigeria.
A tragedy is unfolding that is not being reported. HART has received information from local contacts that at 5am on 2nd August, a large attack took place in remote villages in the western region bordering Kaduna. Hundreds of Islamist Fulani terrorists are attacking villages in the area. On 2nd August, nine villages with a population of over twenty thousand people were dislodged in an operation that lasted for more than six hours and left dozens of people killed and hundreds of households razed to the ground. So far 54 dead bodies of people who were hacked down as they tried to flee have been recovered from eight villages in the area. And one soldier who had responded to reports of earlier violence and engaged the attackers has been killed. Tragically, it seems that the number of victims will rise. All those killed have been Christian and the attackers have been identified as Islamist Fulani militia. The Kwall district is now filled with more than 15,000 displaced people, mostly women and children. Thousands of small farms that were ready for harvest have been destroyed. And a number of people are also missing.
North and Middle-belt Nigeria have a long history of intense ethno-religious struggles for territory, economic opportunity, and agricultural resources. Poverty, declining education provision, a lack of development and a lack of opportunities for young people in the areas have all contributed to the deadly inter-communal violence between the semi-nomadic Islamist Fulani herdsmen and local farmers in recent years. The violence has a strong sectarian dimension with frequent attacks taking place against Christian communities. Boko Haram (which translates to “western education is forbidden”) continue to cause havoc as they attempt to overthrow the Nigerian Government and replace it with an Islamic State through a campaign of bombings, abductions, and assassinations. In the last few years, violence has reached an unprecedented scale and frequency and over the last five years, whole communities have been displaced resulting in the loss of lives, livelihoods, land, and harvests. In July 2020, it was estimated that Nigeria had approximately 3.4 million displaced persons.
HART calls upon the UK government to acknowledge the scale of this ethno-religious violence and to urge the Nigerian government both to hold those responsible accountable and to and to ensure security and stability for all communities in the North and Middle Belt regions are provided with the help and protection they urgently need.