Nigeria is the most populous state on the African continent and ranks seventh in the world in terms of population, more than 200 million inhabitants as of April 2022. Of these, slightly less than half are Christian, settled mainly in the southern part of the country. In the northernmost areas, on the other hand, Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen have long been trying to wipe them out, and in the period between the summer of 2009 and the summer of 2021, “[…] 43,000 Christians were killed by the jihadists and their supporters. An estimated 17,500 churches and more than 2,000 Christian schools were attacked. Ten million people had to flee their homes, another six million fled to avoid being killed, while more than 500 communities were looted.”
This was reported by experts, at a conference at the European Parliament in Brussels hosted on July 12 by the Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance, reworking among other things to data provided by Open Doors.
In an effort to come to the aid of the Nigerian Christian population and to make concrete contributions, the Prime Minister of Croatia, Andrej Plenković, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gordan Grlić-Radman, accepted the proposal of a Croatian MP, Marijana Petir, to send humanitarian aid to the victims of the attack that took place in early June in the city of Owo, just one of many episodes in the context of what is now shaping up to be a genocide, the genocide of Nigerian Christians.
“The Republic of Croatia, says Marijana Petir, “in the context of foreign policy activity, particularly development and humanitarian activities, supports respect for and protection of the rights of all religious groups and provides support for initiatives to strengthen the fight against the persecution of believers and religious minorities worldwide.” That is why thanks to the initiative of the MP, 30,000 euros have been allocated, which will reach Owo through Croatian Caritas. What may seem to be a small amount of money actually represents factual and concrete help, benefiting the Christian community that was the victim of the attack.
Neither is this the only action taken by the small European state in favor of religious freedom in the world. Also at the proposal of Marijana Petir, Zagreb has allocated 200,000 euros for 2021, earmarked for scholarships for young people persecuted for their faith in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, so that they can “[…] study in Croatia and acquire knowledge, then return to their homeland where they will help build or rebuild their communities within the framework of a democratic and tolerant society.” The first group of students came to the country from India, Pakistan, Syria, South Sudan, Nigeria, Benin and Ethiopia. An identical amount has also been allocated for this year.