LAGOS, Nigeria – Nearly 200 churches in the Maiduguri Diocese in northeastern Nigeria have been destroyed or razed by Boko Haram insurgents since August, a diocesan official said.
Father Gideo Obasogie, director of social communications in the diocese, said in a statement released Oct. 6 that violence has affected 186 churches in 14 parishes in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
Some parishes lost as many as 25 churches and worship sites, Father Obasogie said.
“As a church, we are really going through a severe moment of persecution. Our ecclesiastical circumscription is facing a sharp disintegration,” the priest said.
The diocese attributed the violence to Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group with a somewhat undefined leadership and structure. The organization is in the fifth year of a violent campaign that has included bombings, attacks on churches, assassinations and abductions in an effort to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamist state.
The recent raids also have displaced local government officials, throwing the region into chaos as the insurgents have taken over government buildings.
The violence has forced thousands of Catholics to flee the region and has delayed the start of the school year, Father Obasogie said.
“Our children have not yet been fed well or clothed; so resumption to school is practically out of our calculation,” the priest’s statement said.
“In our opinion, if thousands of Nigerian children can’t go to school … then their future is at stake, quite bleak. The health condition of our people is truly troubling in their displaced camps,” he said.
The statement offered no solution to the crisis in the region, but said that the problems posed by the insurgent movement must begin to be addressed globally.