The European Union’s Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, addressed the recent cycle of violence in Plateau State, Nigeria, calling for peace and coexistence among religious and ethnic communities. Speaking on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, Dalli emphasized the need to address the complex causes of the violence.
Dalli highlighted the tragic peak of the violence that occurred on Christmas Eve, resulting in multiple innocent victims and widespread destruction. Despite security measures and a Peace Walk by the State governor with leaders from both Christian and Muslim communities, the violence continues to escalate.
Concerns have been raised over the deteriorating security situation in Plateau State, with a recent study reporting a significant increase in bandit attacks in Northern Nigeria. While there is a long history of conflict in the region, Dalli noted that poverty, climate change, and poor regulation of land ownership and grazing rights contribute to the tensions.
While security measures are necessary, Dalli emphasized the importance of grassroots initiatives for conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inter and intrareligious coexistence, and managing natural resources. The EU has been actively supporting these efforts, with projects specifically focused on interfaith peacebuilding in Plateau State and other regions.
Dalli highlighted that freedom of religion and belief is a priority for the European Union in Nigeria and is addressed through the EU-Nigeria annual Human rights dialogue. The EU is also considering a visit by the Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Belief to Nigeria in the coming months. The EU High Representative has expressed concern over targeted attacks against Christians in the country.
The European Union remains committed to supporting Nigeria in improving security, conflict prevention, and resolution. As Nigeria plays a crucial role in the region and the continent, the EU aims to assist in ensuring lasting peace, tolerance, and coexistence among diverse communities.
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