Iowa senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley recently sent a letter to President Trump asking him to consider deploying a special envoy to help end the genocide of Christians in Nigeria, according to CBN News.
Two years ago, Trump did ask Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to protect “innocent civilians of all faiths,” but Ernst and Grassley are requesting U.S. intervention in the slaughter of Christians at the hands of Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, Muslim Fulani herdsmen and the Islamic State of West Africa.
In March, leaders of the International Organization for Peace Building and Social Justice (PSJ), an NGO that promotes peace and social justice in Nigeria, met with key policymakers in Washington, D.C., including Ernst and Grassley, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who chairs the government’s U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
PSJ leaders asked that the U.S. government use its full power to help address the crisis in Nigeria.
“We are incredibly grateful to U.S. policymakers for their time and attention to this crisis,” said Stephen S. Enada, president and co-founder of the International Committee on Nigeria, who also attended the meeting. “The Trump administration named Nigeria a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ in December, sending a strong signal that our government will not stand for these abuses. With violence escalating and civil unrest at an all-time high, there is more that needs to be done. Now is the time to act.”
Nigeria is ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the worst persecution. And in a report issued on May 15, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law said that 620 Nigerian Christians have been killed since the beginning of 2020.
Like Ernst and Grassley, PSJ leaders requested a U.S. special envoy to Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. But they also asked policymakers to direct the U.S. Department of Treasury to use all assets at its disposal to stop the genocide, including the use of the Global Magnitsky Act—which authorizes the U.S. government to sanction those whom it sees as human rights offenders, freeze their assets and ban them from entering the U.S. PSJ did clarify that the Nigerian government must demonstrate efforts to stop the genocide before receiving any U.S. aid.
“The plight of the Nigerian people is unconscionable,” said Major Abdallah Baikie, co-founder of PSJ. “Women and children are being brutally attacked, kidnapped, killed and displaced. Entire villages are being eradicated and repopulated by terrorists. The people of Nigeria are scared, you can see it in their eyes. They have nowhere to run and the government is failing to take action on their behalf. They need our help.”
Above: Nigerian Christians worship during a morning service at Saint Charles Catholic Church in the predominately Christian neighborhood of Sabon Gari in Kano, northern Nigeria. The church was the site of a 2014 bomb attack by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.
Photo: AP Photo/Ben Curtis