DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Refugee camps in South Sudan are forcing Christians to choose between starvation or conversion to Islam, according to a report this week.
Christian children in the refugee camps are pressured to pray Muslim prayers in order to receive food rations, which they need to survive. This is according to an anonymous source whose comments were shared on Wednesday by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Aid to the Church in Need is a Catholic organization that gathers funding to help persecuted faithful around the world.
The anonymous source told ACN, "We have heard stories where children are conditioned to say Islamic prayers before [being] given food. This is not right. These children are Christian. They should be respected as such."
About 1,000 miles west of South Sudan, refugee camps in the Nigerian state of Borno exhibit similar discrimination against Christians. A report this week from Global Christian News (GCN) surveyed how Christians in Nigeria have undergone immense suffering. Not only are Christians persecuted by Boko Haram, they are even persecuted in the refugee camps.
Boko Haram, an ISIS-affiliated jihadist insurgency, has wreaked havoc on Nigeria since its first acts of violence in 2009. The fighting has killed thousands and displaced millions. Thousands of Christian churches have been destroyed.
Many displaced Christians in Nigeria have found shelter with family, friends or fellow Christians, often in the big cities, which provide greater safety against the insurgents. But some Christians have been forced to join government-run refugee camps in the state of Borno where they face persecution at the hands of Muslim camp officials. Most of the refugees in the camps are Muslims.
One Christian Nigerian refugee, referred to only as Margaret, told GCN that camp-workers who are Muslims often persecute the Christian refugees. She said, "Whenever supplies come the sharing is chaotic. The officials would make us queue and usually fights break out as people struggle to jump queues and if you are a Christian, you are harassed and insulted." Margaret also recalled, "'Get out infidel!' is usually what you hear all the time."
She spoke about the poor treatment of women in the refugee camps, noting rampant prostitution. "Muslim men come in their cars every evening," Margaret noted, "and women are 'arranged' for them by some camp officials and middle men."
Margaret also observed that some men at the camps pressure young women into marriage, only to abandon and divorce them as soon as they become pregnant. Margaret lamented, "Our young vulnerable Christian teenage girls are being destroyed by men. They deceive the girls, get them pregnant and divorce them."
Although government forces are beating back Boko Haram, some feel that too little is being done to re-establish the victimized Christian communities. Thousands of Christian houses of prayer have been destroyed in the Nigerian state of Borno but Borno's government has only helped rebuild a few dozen.