The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has asked the British government to support Nigeria in the short-, medium- and long-term to find a solution to the increasing violence in the country. The death toll in Nigeria continues to rise in clashes between Fulani nomadic herdsmen and settled farmers. The AFP news agency reported on Saturday that scores of people were killed in four days of violence last week across northeast Nigeria. And there are conflicting reports that more than one hundred soldiers are missing, feared dead, after Boko Haram overran a military compound in the area.
In a follow-up to a question from Baroness Cox about the violence in Nigeria this afternoon, Archbishop Justin said: “I am sure the [minister] shares my deep concern about the violent attacks on Christians” and he told members of the House of Lords about the recent attack on the Archbishop of Jos’ compound which resulted in the death of his friend.
“The minister has rightly said how complex the situation is, but can she answer more specifically what assistance the UK government can do in the short-term to strengthen the government of Nigeria in its role in enforcing security and local mediation; in the medium-term to ensure reconciliation which will enable the lives and economies of farmers and herders to be protected; and in the long term, actively and tangibly to support regional efforts to combat the effects of climate change – the development of desertification which is exacerbating ancient rivalries?”
Responding on behalf of the government, the Conservative Peer Baroness Goldie said that she was “very concerned” about the archbishop’s report and that that the UK government had offered support to Nigeria’s Vice President. “We stand ready to support Nigerian-led initiatives,” she said.
She explained that the government was urging the European Union and the United Nations’ Office for West Africa and the Sahel “to extend their influence and develop sustainable solutions to the conflict, including support for community conflict resolution initiatives which we believe are essential.”
She sought to assure the archbishop that “we are considering options for how the UK can support reconciliation at local levels. We cannot ignore the fundamental causes for the violence and so we are reviewing HM Government’s support for Nigeria in, for example, as the Most Reverend Primate suggests, tackling climate change.”