A delegation of Christians which aims to work with churches facing situations of violence, will pay a solidarity visit to Nigeria at the end of this week.
The 'Living Letters' team of the World Council of Churches (WCC) will visit one of the most conflict-affected areas, in and around the city of Jos in the Central Plateau State, where several hundred people were killed in inter-ethnic clashes in recent months.
They will also meet heads of churches in the capital city Abuja, as well as leading Muslim personalities involved in peace and reconciliation efforts in the country. Meetings with President Goodluck Jonathan and with the governor of the Central Plateau State, Jonah Jang, are scheduled.
Nigeria is the most populous and largest oil-producing country of Africa. Since its independence, the country has gone through a succession of military and civilian regimes marked by corruption, violence, and human rights abuses.
In 1999, elections brought back a more stable government. Economically, Nigeria has remained a poor country, as the oil revenues only benefit the ruling minority. For many years, the WCC has supported the Ogoni people, indigenous to the oil-rich Niger Delta, in their struggle against the exploitation and environmental degradation caused by oil companies.
During the past years, Nigeria has been affected by ethnic and religious conflicts. Recent developments showed that social, economic, tribal and cultural causes were at the root of the tensions which erupted in various parts of the country. Poverty, corruption and mismanagement are the underlying factors fuelling conflicts and resulting in gross violations of human rights.
Living Letters are small ecumenical teams which visit a country to listen, learn, share approaches and to help confront challenges in order to overcome violence and promote and pray for peace.
They are organised in the context of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence as a preparation for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011.