Islamist insurgents in Nigeria have released a video of six Christian aid workers begging for their lives after being kidnapped by a jihadist group in a raid last week.
In the three-minute video, a woman who identifies herself as Grace, sits alongside five men, who she describes as her colleagues from the humanitarian group Action Against Hunger, which provides food aid to poor communities around the world.
“I beg Nigeria and our organization Action Against Hunger to please do something and see that we are released,” she says. “All six of us are staff. We have families, some of us have children. Please do something to release us. I am begging on behalf of all of us here, Nigeria should not allow [us to be killed.]”
The Paris-based charity confirmed on Twitter that a staff member, two drivers and three health workers working for a local ACF program were seen in the video.
In a statement, the group said it "demands the liberation of its staff member and her colleagues.”
"These are humanitarian workers who chose to devote their lives to helping the most vulnerable communities in Nigeria and they are only motivated by the values of solidarity, humanity and neutrality," it added. “Their abduction fully contradicts International Humanitarian Law and internationally recognized standards for the protection of humanitarian workers and organizations.”
The six aid workers went missing after a July 19 attack on a convoy near the town of Damasak in the northeastern state of Borno in which one driver was killed. Boko Haram, the Islamic State’s West Africa branch, is believed to be responsible for the attacks. The hostages are believed to be held in the ISWAP enclave on the shores of Lake Chad in the far north of Nigeria.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident as these are colleagues dedicated to providing life-saving assistance to individuals and families affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the northeast of Nigeria. We are very concerned and want to ensure that they are safe and can be reunited with their families," Action Against Hunger said.
In the video, Grace cites the plight of Leah Sharibu; the Christian schoolgirl kidnapped by Boko Haram; and Alice Ngaddah, a Christian mother-of-two kidnapped in a separate attack.
“Nigeria cannot do anything about them, [Boko Haram] will not release but will also kill,” she says.
More than 27,000 people have been killed in northeast Nigeria since Boko Haram's insurgency began in 2009, and nearly 2 million others have been forced to flee their homes.
The latest attack comes nine months after Boko Haram militants executed a Red Cross aid worker who was kidnapped from another town in northeastern Nigeria in March 2018.
In April 2014, the group kidnapped about 276 schoolgirls from the mostly Christian town of Chibok, Nigeria. While over 100 of the Chibok schoolgirls have been released, about 112 others are still missing.
Nigeria ranks as the 12th worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to the Open Doors 2019 World Watch List.