A multipurpose hall to be used as a church by Catholics who fled Boko Haram in Cameroon

Project Code: 113-08-19

"What happened in the attacks in Paris is something we experience here every day, yet nobody in the world is speaking about it." These were the words of Bishop Bruno Ateba of the Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo, describing the situation in his region, which borders the frontier with Nigeria. Sadly, it is not only in Nigeria but also in the north of neighboring Cameroon that people are suffering from the violent attacks of the terrorist group Boko Haram, even if these attacks have attracted little publicity in the media.

Instead, all the attention of the world media is focused on the Middle East, the bishop said. And yet, since the autumn of 2014, in his diocese alone, two senior staff of the diocese, three catechists and over 30 of the Christian faithful have been murdered. On top of this, there have been numerous abductions, particularly of many children and young people who are kidnapped to serve as "cannon fodder" for Boko Haram. Others are lured away from their families in return for money and false promises by the terrorists. In recent months some 2,000 children and young people in Cameroon, aged between five and 15 years, have fallen into the hands of Boko Haram, including a number of girls.

The violence is not only affecting the Christians, as many Muslims are falling victim to it as well. In a number of places, mosques have been burned to the ground, while the imams have had their throats cut because they refused to toe the line of Boko Haram. Since December 2013, the local Muslim community in Cameroon has been increasingly adopting a clearer stance against Boko Haram, rejecting the group's claim to be Muslim. Indeed, many Muslims have been helping Christians who are in danger, the bishop reports. "We share the same sufferings together with them," he says. A multipurpose hall to be used as a church by Catholics

The attacks have caused serious damage to the infrastructure of the region, which is already among the poorest in Cameroon. As a result of the terrorism, over 110 schools and some 13 health centers have been closed, while a number of police stations have been destroyed. Many people have fled. In the Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo alone, some 55,000 people have fled the violence. Many have found shelter with friends or relatives, but over 22,000 have sought refuge out in the bush.”

“In addition to the local refugee population, there is also a flood of refugees from Nigeria who are seeking to escape the terror of Boko Haram. Altogether, there are thought to be more than a million people made refugees by Boko Haram, and many thousands of them have fled here to northern Cameroon.

Bishop Ateba appealed to the world community: "Today, we are begging your attention, your prayers and your help. Please help us to put a stop to this nameless brutality that is destroying all hope for the future and bringing to nothing the work of many generations of the faithful." At the same time, he praises the courage of the ordinary faithful, who continue to gather together to pray in many places, despite the danger and their fear. They are "like fireflies of faith, shining in the night," he says.

ACN would like to give $6,500 for the construction of a multipurpose hall, so that the 5,200 or so Catholic refugees currently sheltering in the refugee camp of Minawao can gather there to pray, attend Holy Mass and be given pastoral care and support. Will you give so that these Catholic refugees can have a place to pray and worship in Cameroon?


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