Nigerian and American Brethren continue aid to those displaced by violence, MMB members to engage in advocacy for Nigeria




 Youth at one of the relocation sites for displaced people
Photos from a day of blessing for one of the relocation sites for Nigerians displaced by violence, which are being developed by Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in cooperation with Brethren Disaster Ministries. A former president of EYN, Filibus Gwama (at left below) visited the site with EYN staff liaison Markus Gamache (at right below) to meet with the people in the camp as well as local community leaders, and to lead in blessing the project. Shown below, the two EYN leaders meet with a local community leader who welcomed the project, Gamache reported. Above, displaced youth receive blessing from an elder.
 Former EYN president Filibus Gwama meets with a local leader


Efforts continue by Nigerian and American Brethren to aid those displaced by violence in northeastern Nigeria, where news media report continued fighting and EYN members report more attacks in which members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) were abducted or killed.

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Two members of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board--chair elect Don Fitzkee and Naperville (Ill.) pastor Dennis Webb--will be in Washington, D.C., tomorrow for a training, and while in the city will visit their congressional district offices in an advocacy effort focused on Nigeria. The two also will meet with the president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches, and will be hosted for a meal by Office of Public Witness director Nate Hosler.

The Office of Public Witness has prepared a document outlining goals for the advocacy focus on Nigeria, and the message to share with US politicians. In addition to information about the devastating situation faced by EYN, based on a recent report from EYN president Samuel Dali (see www.brethren.org/news/2014/newsline-special-eyn-is.html ), the effort encourages a “demilitarized response” to the instability in Nigeria.

The document points out that the US government “has disproportionately emphasized and developed military responses to its foreign policy and assistance to conflict stricken regions.... Instead, we encourage you to strengthen accounts and offices such as the US Bureau of Conflict Stabilization Operations that are critical to encouraging and supporting effective peacebuilding and conflict mitigation efforts in Nigeria and the broader region.”

Other messages urge provision of “rapid and robust assistance” to internally displaced people and refugees and their host communities in Nigeria, as well as support for local nongovernmental organizations, and job creation for the young and un- or underemployed.

In a section titled, “Accountability and Compassion as Our Guide,” the document urges the US and international community to help screen Nigerian security service personnel with an aim to identifying those with a history of human rights abuse and sympathizers of Boko Haram. It quotes EYN president Samuel Dali, who wrote in a communication to the United Nations earlier this summer: “Mercy, compassion, and importance of every human life should guide the thinking, activities, and action of the UN.”

Work to aid the displaced continues

With leadership from EYN staff, work continues on two relocation project sites for displaced people. One of the sites is open to the interfaith community and provides shelter for affected families from both Christian and Muslim backgrounds side by side.

Filibus K. Gwama, a former EYN president, traveled with EYN staff liaison Markus Gamache to the relocation project sites in central Nigeria and held blessing ceremonies with youth, women, and others who were present. He also met with local community leaders, and aided in the work required to purchase the land, according to a report from Gamache.

The recent grant to the work in Nigeria from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) will be focused on providing food and supplies to a large refugee encampment, and the work of CCEPI, reports Brethren Disaster Ministries associate executive director Roy Winter. CCEPI, or the Center for Compassion, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives, is a nonprofit humanitarian organization founded and led by prominent EYN member Rebecca Dali with a focus on aid for widows and orphans of the violence, and displaced families.

The large-scale food and supplies distribution is taking place in the city of Yola, where many EYN members and others fled in mid-August after the community of Michika and surrounding area was overrun by Boko Haram insurgents, and the area north of the city of Mubi was threatened.

Fighting, killing, abductions also continue

News media in Nigeria reported fierce fighting this week between the army and insurgents in the Michika area north of Mubi, as Nigerian forces attempt to regain control there. Reports cite hundreds of people killed, both insurgents and Nigerian soldiers, as well as civilians.

An interview with Rebecca Dali by World Watch Monitor echoes a report she posted on Facebook last week concerning the situation in Michika, which is her home town. She also reported an attack by Boko Haram on the community of Ngoshe, in which many people--including whole families--were abducted or killed. “How can I celebrate my birthday with a homeless, scattered family?” is the title of her interview with World Watch Monitor, at www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2014/10/3413197 .

In the communities of Shaffa and Shindiffu, an attack by insurgents in late September burned at least three EYN churches and a parsonage, as well as an EYN dispensary and secondary school, a Bura Bible translation office, staff quarters of Theological Education by Extension (TEE), and many homes. Among those killed were pastors and leaders of EYN and other churches, community leaders, and EYN members and families, among others. A report of the attack from an EYN member was received by e-mail, sent to a former mission worker.

Gifts to the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) help support the disaster relief work in Nigeria. Make gifts online at www.brethren.org/edf or send by mail to Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. More information about the work of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria and about EYN is at www.brethren.org/nigeria .

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