With the continuing focus on the Ebola virus in west Africa there is a danger that people will forget that the people of northern Nigeria are still living under the threat of continuing Boko Haram violence and destruction. In recent weeks this Islamic group [which also attacks fellow Muslims whom they deem to be not ‘truly islamic’] have continued their attacks on communities in different parts of north-eastern Nigeria. In recent weeks we hear of ‘peace talks’ with the Federal Government which should lead to the release of the 219 girls kidnapped in Chibok last April. But nothing has come of this so far. Some commentators suspect that politicians are making use of this to garner votes in the elections due early next year.
But, despite the report of the peace talks, Boko Haram continues to advance. The following report comes from reliable sources in the city of Yola.
After Mubi was overran by the Boko Haram, Yola is now the closest possible place to take refuge in. The other alternative is to go across the border into Cameroon. By Thursday of last week [30 October], Yola was overflowing with thousands of displaced people from Uba, Mubi, Maiha, Hong and Gombi Local Government areas. We have thousands of these displaced people in our school compounds and Cathedral grounds.
This week the situation deteriorated further when Boko Haram issued a new threat to take over Yola. Boko Haram have never said something and failed to fulfil.
This new threat has made huge numbers of people flee Yola towards the southern part of Adamawa State and others into neighbouring Cameroon. Yola is now very tense, people are evacuating their loved ones because of fear that the Boko Haram will make good on their threat.
The Federal Government Girls College in Yola was closed down by the authorities, as has the Catholic Minor Seminary and the many Catholic Mission schools in Yola diocese. All foreign missionaries have been asked to leave Yola for the time being and the remaining local clergy are on alert in a rapidly changing situation. In particular the bishop of Yola has instructed all religious Sisters to leave the area for their safety, including the Irish Sisters. The situation is very critical.
The people of Yola rely on your prayers. Please pray for them.