Displaced Christians suffering amidst a famine in sub-Saharan Africa are unable to receive vital aid as they are reportedly being discriminated against because of their faith, according to persecution charity Open Doors.
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Bishop William Naga, who was forced to flee his home when Islamist group Boko Haram wreaked havoc in Nigeria in 2014, told Open Doors that Christian refugees are being discriminated against at camps and are blocked from receiving vital aid. He said the believers are not being given food and are told that they are not meant to be recipients of the relief, Christian Today relays.
"The governor did his best when the Christians had to flee in 2014 and 2015. But when the care of the camps was handed over to other organisations, the discrimination started," Bishop Naga told Open Doors. "They will give food to the refugees, but if you are a Christian they will not give you food. They will openly tell you that the relief is not for Christians."
Because of the discrimination against Christians at refugee camps, the religious minority formed their own informal and exclusive camps. John Gwamma, who heads one of these camps, said the Christians were previously not allowed to receive food or go to church and are labeled as "arne," or pagan.
In light of the situation, Open Doors has also launched its own relief operations in the region in partnership with local churches. The charity helps provide food, blankets, and other forms of vital aid to the displaced Christians.
Meanwhile, ITV News warned that children and the elderly are those who are most at risk of dying amid the famine and starvation in some Middle Eastern and African countries. According to Greg Barrow, the head of the World Food Programme in London, the situation in these regions is now grave.
Barrow notes that young children are quickly affected by the deprivation of nutritious food and that they need proper food to thrive and grow strong. He emphasized the first 1,000 days from conception to the second birthday as a critical period in which a child must receive good nutrition or else the effects to his or her health will be irreversible.
The World Food Programme has already teamed up with various international agencies to provide starving children with highly nutritious food such as fortified peanut pastes. This is one way that the organization can help malnourished children achieve optimum development.