Emergency aid for the Archdiocese of Niamey, Niger, following attacks against Christians
Project Code: 140-08-59
The terrorist attack of January 7 this year on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris shook the world. Eleven members of the editorial team of the magazine were murdered, as were two policeman and, later, four hostages held prisoner in a Jewish supermarket by one of the assailants. But when there were violent reactions and revenge attacks in various Islamic countries, aimed at Christians and Christian churches as well as at some Western establishments – after the satirical magazine had again published cartoons of Mohammed, just a week after the attack – the world took little notice.
A particularly powerful wave of violence was suffered by Christians in the West African country of Niger, resulting in twelve of the fourteen churches in the capital Niamey being looted and then burned to the ground. Two convents of religious Sisters were also attacked.
Among the places particularly hard-hit was the Catholic parish in the town of Zinder. The church here had already previously been desecrated and set on fire in 2012. In the latest attacks, no single part of the parish was spared. The presbytery, the Catholic primary school, the convent of the religious Sisters, the rooms for catechesis and other educational programs, the guest accommodation, and all the vehicles of the parish – in short, everything that was not nailed down – were first of all looted, and then what was left was reduced to rubble and ashes. Even the homes of Christian families were looted and burned at the same time.
Some 200 people were forced to leave the city, together with the priests and religious Sisters, and flee to the capital Niamey, where they are currently taking shelter in a Catholic center. The fact that no one actually lost their lives in these attacks can only be ascribed to divine Providence, says the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.
The Catholic faithful have responded with immense courage: "Our churches have been destroyed, but not our faith. We will get back on our feet again," they say. But they will need help in order to do so.
ACN has been asked to provide emergency help for the five most severely affected parishes, so that Church life can continue and support can be given to those who have fled here – at least on a temporary basis, until the rebuilding work can begin. We are helping with $9,100.
Will you give to provide emergency aid for these persecuted Christians in Niger?
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