Boko Haram continues rampage

Since the kidnapping of 272 school girls in April, Boko Haram has continued its wave of violence throughout Nigeria. As of June 17, approximately 650 deaths can be attributed to attacks carried out by the terrorist organization based out of northeast Nigeria, north Cameroon and Niger. The kidnapped school girls that originally drew the world’s attention have yet to be returned or located.

Just days ago, BBC Africa reported that four villages in northeastern Nigeria have been attacked by suspected Boko Haram militants who targeted at least one church. Other reports say four churches were attacked. The bodies of at least 40 civilians and six militants have been recovered.

It is the latest assault on villages near … where the schoolgirls were abducted.

It is the latest assault on villages near Chibok, the town where the schoolgirls were abducted.

The U.S. Congress is considering how to best assist the Nigerian government and its military in dealing with Boko Haram. A June 11 hearing by the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights & International Organizations discussed issues such as assistance in technology, communication and intelligence, military planning, and language training. No definitive solution has been reached or agreed on, though.

Boko Haram

Boko Haram identifies itself as an Islamic organization. Boko Haram has been known to assassinate Muslim clerics who criticize and condemn it, however. Furthermore, members of Boko Haram do not associate with the rest of the Muslim population.

Boko Haram has been known to assassinate Muslim clerics who criticize and condemn it.

In recent weeks, Nigerian military and police intercepted and arrested 486 suspected Boko Haram members in Nigeria’s southeastern Abia state. While these arrests show progress, they also illustrate the sheer size of Boko Haram and the organization’s ability to lure and recruit young members. Most of the detained were between the ages of 16 and 24.

Groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have provided their own recommendations to counteract Boko Haram. These recommendations frequently cite military reform, oversight and accountability. In addition, Amnesty International advises against rescue-mission efforts to retrieve the kidnapped school girls to avoid stirring up any additional hostility and retaliation attacks.

United Methodist response

It is imperative that United Methodists stand together to condemn these terrorist actions of Boko Haram, demand justice, and pray for the safe return of the missing school girls. The General Board of Church & Society extends its greatest sympathies and prayers to those affected by the attacks.

We are committed to standing in solidarity with those affected by the atrocities committed by Boko Haram.

It is important that we emphasize to our local congregations that the actions carried out by Boko Haram in no way represent others of the Islamic faith and that we stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters in rebuking Boko Haram’s intentions.

Editor's note: Erin Brown is an intern at the General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) working on issues in Peace with Justice. Originally from New Jersey, she is now entering her senior year at American University in Washington, D.C., majoring in International Studies with a focus on Global Inequality & Development. She intends on entering the field of faith-based development after graduating in May 2015.

The leader of The United Methodist Church in Nigeria and the head of the denomination’s international mission agency joined in an appeal for prayers for the safe return of the large group of girls kidnapped from their government secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria. You can read more at United Methodist Leaders Ask for Prayers for Missing Girls in Nigeriaf

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