Since 2013, countries in West Africa have been traumatized by tragic events. There has been armed conflict in northern Mali, Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria including kidnapping of schoolgirls, and most recently attacks on churches in Niger. As these tragedies continue, World Renew requests your prayers and support.
Fighting in northern Mali has continued since May 2014. Factions of Tuareg and Arab separatists have fought one another, and jihadists have attacked UN peacekeepers and Malian forces with roadside and suicide bombs. This has affected the Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal regions.
World Renew is responding to this crisis by providing millet to 300 refugee families who had fled Mali and are now living in a neighboring country. As displaced families began to flood into the villages, the farmer's co-ops quickly organized themselves, registered people, and set up the feeding programs in five locations. World Renew is supporting this urgent intervention by paying for the food used from the co-ops’ warehouses. World Renew is also providinged each family with two goats and some goat feed.
Most recently, Malian Pastors and women leaders have been trained to facilitate trauma-healing groups in their churches and communities.
World Renew has been working with local communities in Mali on a wide variety of programs for 28 years in three areas of the country. Community leaders in these villages were trained by World Renew in literacy and civic education. They now have formed farmer's co-ops that manage warehouses to store their harvest.
Since Friday January 17th 2015, protests have been taking place throughout Niger, possibly incited by the latest cover of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and President Issoufou’s participation in the march in Paris. Recent attacks have targeted churches, bars and presidential party buildings.
Throughout Niamey over 65 churches, as well as schools, an orphanage, homes, and businesses of Christians were attacked. Ten people died and more than 170 were injured during the rioting.
World Renew is working with Pastors whose houses were destroyed, by providing them with food packages, mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets and kitchen utensils to begin to rebuild after this violence.
On April 15, 2014 rebels stormed Government Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria and seized 276 boarding girls who were taking exams. This was just one of many attacks in an escalating series of bombings, kidnappings, violent clashes and terrorist activities carried out by the militant group, Boko Haram, in West Africa over the past several years.
In November 2014, Boko Haram greatly increased their attacks in northern Nigeria, including some villages whose residents fled over the Niger border for safety. One of World Renew’s partner organizations identified fifty refugee families who were the most destitute and provided them with food, blankets, mosquito nets, water purification tablets, soap, and buckets.
The militant group has seized control of towns and villages in northeast Nigeria and has begun threatening neighbouring countries. On January 18, 2015, 80 people were taken hostage by Boko Haram militants in the far north region of Cameroon. Most of those kidnapped in this cross-border rage were children. Before leaving, the attackers burned many homes to the ground.
Violence is also striking other parts of the country. In Benue, Taraba, Nassarawa and Plateau States, for example, violent clashes have broken out between herdsmen and farmers. World Renew is responding.
World Renew has worked in the West Africa region since 1969. While the Boko Haram uprising has limited the amount of ministry that can occur in some affected regions, it has not halted the overall work.
As of November 2014, World Renew has trained 24 leaders who are active with eighteen trauma healing groups (9 men's groups and 9 women's groups) in Taraba and Benue States using “Healing the Wounds of Trauma-How the Church Can Help” curriculum. Taraba and Benue states were the sites of violence and killings in 2014. We had to postpone an earlier scheduled training in Adamawa State where the Church of the Brethren (EYN) is dominant because of new Boko Haram attacks in October and November. But in collaboration with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), which is active in the EYN area providing relief, we agreed that Trauma Healing will be provided for those displaced people as soon as possible, because it is a real felt need for many who have experienced severe trauma.