A woman carries a child through a camp in the state of Benue, Nigeria, April 11, 2018. CNS photo/Afolabi Sotunde, Reuters

Nigerian Christians a top priority for Aid to the Church in Need

  • July 23, 2018

OTTAWA – Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Canada intends to make the plight of Nigerian Christians a priority in the coming year, says the pontifical charity’s Canadian director.

“We are very worried about it,” said Marie-Claude Lalonde, Canada’s national director. “We know it’s going to be a priority for the coming year, without forgetting the needs of the Iraqis, and Syrians and Christians in the Middle East.”

The agency — founded in 1947 to assist Catholics wherever the Church suffers poverty or persecution — sponsored a visit to Canada by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria, last month that took him to Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. He told Canadians about the violence radical Islamists such as Boko Haram are inflicting on Christians and Muslims who do not share their vision to impose Shariah law on the country and how ethnic factions are vying for political power.

Kaigama represents a diocese in Nigeria’s middle belt or plateau region between its largely Muslim north and its largely Christian south, a region that has experienced a great deal of violence and kidnappings in recent years. 

In recent weeks, 200 were killed in the region where Kaigama comes from, said Lalonde. “There are regular episodes of violence and, at the moment, they are getting worse.”

Last year, Aid to the Church in Need’s primary focus was rebuilding villages on Iraq’s Nineveh Plain so Christians can return home to the area ravaged by ISIS. Lalonde said this effort will continue. Aid to the Church in Need Canada also raised $420,000 towards addressing famine in South Sudan and Nigeria.

The organization raised a total of $2.7 million in 2017, slightly down from the $2.9 million it raised in 2016, according to the annual report released earlier this month. Worldwide, it raised $181,123,824, down from its record-breaking $189.5 million in 2016 that represented a jump of $13.5 million from the previous year.

Aid to the Church in Need funded 5,357 projects in 149 countries in 2017. It has offices in 23 countries. 

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