By Open Doors 23 May 2024 4 MIN

Niger | Christians Flee Villages

Last month, jihadists began imposing a new law in villages near the NigerBurkina Faso border in the Tillabéri region. On Tuesday, 16 April, jihadists summoned people in the marketplace of La Tapoa and announced that, as of that day, all males 15 years and older who refuse to convert to Islam, are required to pay Jizya to them. Jizya is a tax, according to Islamic law, levied against non-Muslim inhabitants within Muslim states.

On 2 May, Christians began leaving their villages and are now taking refuge in Makalondi town, about 200 kilometres away. Currently around 357 Christian families have left their villages.

The law would apply to all the villages under jihadist control. According to Open Doors’ contacts, all villagers were strongly advised to convert to Islam if they want to remain living in the villages, and whoever does not want to convert to Islam must pay 50,000 CFA (120 AUD) as tax. Should they pay, they are allowed to continue living in the village but will live as slaves with their families. All their property will automatically become the jihadists’. Those who do not want to convert to Islam or pay Jizya can leave the village but are not allowed to take anything with them except the clothes they are wearing. 

“When the Jihadists came, they said all Christians must pay 50,000 CFA if they cannot afford to pay, they must accept Islam”, a pastor only known as Yandi told an Open Doors’ partner. 

Open Doors’ partners have confirmed that, until now, the jihadists have visited six other villages in the Tillabéri region to implement their new law. 

No Shelter For Displaced Christians

“Because of that we fled and came here with nothing, we couldn’t bring our food here. For us to get a place here is very difficult, we don’t even have a shelter to stay…” Pastor Yalitchoi explained. 

For now, Christians huddle together under trees, seeking shelter from the hot sun. However, our partners share that soon rainy season will come and make life even more difficult for the displaced believers in Makalondi.

Security conditions in Niger have deteriorated in recent years, particularly in the areas bordering Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Mali, where armed groups have established bases and carry out repeated attacks against the security forces and civilians. Jihadists target Christians and Animists in the villages, and as a result, tens of thousands of people have fled their villages since the beginning of the insurgency. 

Pray for Niger:

  • Pray for God’s provision for our displaced brothers and sisters. May God move the heart of strangers in Makalondi community to help families with basic necessities. 
  • Pray for the pastors who are also displaced and ministering to the affected believers. Pray that God will give them grace and wisdom to care spiritually for the affected. 
  • Pray for the insecurity situation in the Tillabéri region, that God will work in the hearts and minds of jihadists and bring them to repentance. 

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