The exodus begins?

By John Newton
UP to 35,000 people have fled from the north of Nigeria following ongoing attacks by Boko Haram.
Last Friday (20th January), the extremist Islamist group carried out attacks in Kano city, Borno State killing at least 160 people.
According to reports received by Aid to the Church in Need yesterday (24th January) from Church sources in the country up to 35,000 people left their homes following the violence.
ACN was told: “People just run away to where they think they’ll be safe, especially to Jos and further south.”
One source added: “There is panic. Many just leave everything behind, and run for safety, because they do not know when violence might flare up again.
There was a large number of Catholics among those fleeing, who reported that churches were destroyed in Maidiguri, Borno State and Bauchi, Bauchi State on Sunday (22nd January).
ACN was told: “It is the stated goal of Boko Haram to make the whole of the north free of Christians.”
At the beginning of January, group spokesman, Abul Qaqa, gave Christians living in the north with a three-day ultimatum to leave.
Boko Haram, which means “western education is sinful” in Nigeria’s Hausa language, has killed at least 935 people since it launched an uprising in 2009, according to Human Rights Watch.
This includes more than 250 at the beginning of 2012.
According to the report 550 people were killed in 115 separate attacks by Boko Haram last year, mostly in Borno State.

Editor’s Notes

Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in about 130 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 162 languages and 48 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow.
While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material.
For more information, contact John Newton, ACN Press Officer, 020 8661 5167