A Nigerian diocese continues to live in the shadow of Boko Haram--and life is cheap
Right now, the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway is the lifeline bringing supplies to more than 1 million displaced people hunkering down in the diocese
By Father Gideon
NEW YORK—Security arrangements make
travel through the Diocese of Maiduguri extremely cumbersome—and dangerous. Our
people are being massacred daily!
Commuting along the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, the
region’s main axis, was halted again for the fourth time in a week recently,
as security forces take measures to keep travelers from driving into an ambush
by the bloodthirsty insurgents. I took my turn the other day.
What I found were numerous burned out cars and deserted
villages, their inhabitants having fled for fear of ongoing attacks which are
continuing to take place. Boko Haram has stepped up its raids in recent weeks
and our biggest fear is that our diocese will be cut off from the rest of the
country. During the past year, Boko Haram has already destroyed four of the five
bridges that connect the Maiduguri Diocese to the outside world. The group has also
planted landmines which have killed a number of people already.
Right now, the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway is the lifeline
bringing supplies to more than 1 million displaced people hunkering down in the
diocese. Naturally, there is grave concern that this still relatively safe access
route will be cut off before long. Our hope is that the army will be deployed
to the city of Benisheik, 60 miles from the regional capital of Maidugui, to
protect the bridge that keeps the highway—which is used by thousands of people
Communities along the vital highway are under grave threat. On July 14, mobilizing more than a 100 fighters,
Boko Haram hit the village of Mainok, in Borno state. The rampage killed more some 40
people, and left hundreds of homes in ashes. The terrorists even returned
shortly after the attack to mow down villagers who were brave enough to return
to survey the damage and bury the dead. Boko haram on July 16 also attacked the villages
of Warsala and Ngamdu in the same area—also targeting travelers on nearby roads—leaving
more than a dozen dead.
After four major attacks in the area in just the past
week, the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway is becoming a dead zone. We pray that
troops will be deployed to stop this massacre. There are still a good number of
helpless citizens—Catholic laity and priests—who are forced to travel along the
highway every day. May our Blessed Lady, Queen of the highway, protect them.
Father Obasogie is in
charge of communication for the Diocese of Maiduguri, the See hardest hit by
The Maiduguri-Damaturu highway; photo courtesy Diocese of Maiduguri, Nigeria