U.S. Advancing Religious Freedom Issues in Nigeria

U.S. to Send Special Envoy to Lake Chad

WASHINGTON — The International Committee on Nigeria (ICON), a nonprofit working to secure a future for all Nigerians, released a statement today, applauding a new executive order signed by President Trump advancing international religious freedom. The order directs the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to take action to combat religious freedom violations and calls for a budget of at least $50 million for programs to fight religious violence and persecution abroad and protect religious minorities.

The International Committee on Nigeria applauds a new executive order signed by President Trump advancing international religious freedom.“We are incredibly grateful to President Trump for prioritizing international religious freedom. This new order demonstrates a continued commitment to promoting and protecting religious freedoms abroad by stopping crimes against people of faith – and it comes at a critical time for Nigeria.

“Right now, Boko Haram, widely known as one of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world, is actively committing a genocide against Nigerian Christians and committing crimes against humanity on the wider population. Tens of thousands of innocent lives have been lost, mostly women and children. Thousands of churches have been torched. Entire communities, villages, and towns have been devastated. Millions have been kidnapped or displaced from their homes following persecution.

“Not only has President Muhammadu Buhari failed to stop the violence despite repeated requests from world leaders, but attacks against Christians have become more aggressive and deadly under his administration. It’s even been reported that Nigerian Christians who are in desperate need of food support during COVID-19 are getting ‘relief scraps’ compared to Muslims. This is not acceptable.

“The president’s new order empowers DOS and USAID to take the necessary steps to drive positive change – for example, sending a Special Envoy to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region. We applaud this development and hope it is a turning point in stopping Nigeria’s humanitarian crisis once and for all.”

The president’s order follows a recent increase in Congressional support for addressing the crisis in Nigeria. Recently Senator Grassley spoke about the need for action on the Senate floor and sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking what the Administration is doing to ensure “that Christians and other religious minorities in Africa’s most populous country are safe from persecution,” and about the status of requests to appoint a special envoy to Nigeria. Senator Joni Ernst sent a letter to President Trump saying, “We must not lose sight of the long-term threats to Christians in Nigeria… your leadership can stop the violence and save lives.”

The letters, and President Trump’s executive order, follow the April publication of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2020 Annual Report, which documents the state of religious freedoms around the world. The report is critical because Nigeria is listed as a “Country of Particular Concern,” or CPC, among other things. A CPC designation is considered the most serious category of documenting religious freedom violations and infringement.

As part of its global Silent Slaughter campaign, ICON tracks and reports the atrocities taking place in Nigeria every day. The tracker can be found here.

For more on the Silent Slaughter campaign, click here.


About International Committee on Nigeria (ICON)

International Committee on Nigeria is a consortium of Nigerians and other nationalities who have combined efforts to help Nigeria. Our mission is to create a community where rule of law guides every facet of societal interactions in Nigeria. ICON promotes human dignity, the right to live, religious freedom, and the protection of the vulnerable against all forms of persecution.

CONTACT: Elizabeth Heaton, 202-445-9858, elizabeth@eahstrategiesllc.com

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