4 shocking findings from State Department's religious freedom report

Mourners attend the funeral for victims of June 5, 2022, church attack in Owo, Ondo state, Nigeria.
Mourners attend the funeral for victims of June 5, 2022, church attack in Owo, Ondo state, Nigeria. | Catholic Diocese of Ondo

Around 4,000 civilian deaths from violence in Nigeria

Citing data from multiple sources, including the NGO Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the State Department noted that a spike in deadly violence continued in 2022, impacting both Christians and Muslims. 

ACLED reported 3,953 civilian deaths from violence across the country for the year, with violence targeting Christians accounting for 5% of all violence. In 2021, the group tallied 3,699 deaths.

"There continued to be frequent violent incidents, particularly in the northern part of the country, affecting both Muslims and Christians, resulting in numerous deaths," the State Department's report on Nigeria states. "Kidnappings and armed robbery by criminal gangs increased in the South as well as the North West, the South South, and the South East. The international Christian organization Open Doors stated that terrorist groups, militant herdsmen, and criminal gangs were responsible for large numbers of fatalities, and Christians were particularly vulnerable."

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As Christian activists and watchdog organizations have claimed for years that Christians are being targeted for violence by radicalized herdsmen and Islamic extremist groups, some advocates internationally have questioned whether violence against Christians has reached the standard for a genocide declaration. 

However, the State Department reports that the NGO Muslim Rights Concern estimates that 32,000 Muslims were killed in the previous three years because of terror attacks in the country's north. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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