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Africa - the continent with the second highest number of killed pastoral agents


In Africa 1 priest in Tanzania, 1 religious sister in Madagascar, 1 lay person in Nigeria were killed.

More details: 

In Tanzania Don Evarist Mushi was shot to death by a person on a motorbike while he was going to celebrate mass.

In Madagascar Sister Marie Emmanuel Helesbeux was killed, she was first hit with a stick and then strangled by three people, it seems they owned the victim money.

In Nigeria the lay missionary Afra Martinelli was found in her room, severely wounded in the neck with a machete, most likely due to an attempted theft.




In Africa were killed 2 priests, 5 sisters

3 in Burundi, 2 in the Central African Republic, 1 in South Africa, 1 in Tanzania.

In Burundi: three xaverian missionary sisters: Sister Lucia Pulici, sister Olga Raschietti and sister Bernadetta Bogian.

In the Central African Republic: Fr Christ Forman Wilibona, killed by rebels at a street barrier, Fr. Paul-Emile Nzale, killed together with faithful in an attack on his parish.

In South Africa: Sister Mary Paule Tacke, kidnapped and killed

In Tanzania: sister Clecensia Kapuli, killed in a robbery.




In Africa were killed 3 priests, 1 sister, 1 lay collaborator

2 in  Nigeria, 1 in South africa, 1 Kenya, 1 RD Congo

In Nigeria: Fr- Goodwill Onyeka was killed in an attempted street robbery. Dennis Osuagwu was killed in an ambush.

In Congo RD: Fr. Jean-Paul Kakule Kyalembera was killed by an act of banditism

In Sudafrica: Sister Stefani Tiefenbacher died by soffocation, after having been tied and gagged

In Kenya: Rita Fossaceca, a volontarian, was killed in a robbery.




In Africa 8 pastoral care workers were killed (3 priests, 2 nuns, 1 seminarian, 2 lay persons): 2 priests, 1 nun and 2 lay persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1 nun in South Sudan, 1 priest and 1 seminarian in Nigeria.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Fr. Vincent Machozi, Assumptionist priest, and Fr. Joseph Mulimbi Nguli were killed in an ambush; Sister Clara Agano Kahambu, of the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King School, was killed while she was in her office. Two Caritas workers were killed during a street robbery.

In South Sudan Sister Veronica Rackova, of the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit died due to the consequences of a road ambush.

In Nigeria the body of Fr. John Adeyi, Vicar General of the Diocese of Otukpo, was found two months after his abduction. Seminarian Lazarus Nwafor was killed during an attack by a group of Fulani nomads. 



niger nigeria cameroon chadNigeria – Cameroon – Niger – Chad

  • Since 2015: Joint military operation of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad against Boko Haram.
  • Boko Haram is believed to have its roots in Al-Qaeda, although in March 2015 Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekan pledged allegiance to ISIS. 
  • Boko Haram first emerged around 2002 in Maiduguri in Northern Nigeria. It demanded the implementation of the Sharia Law for the whole country. 
  • Around 2009: increasing radicalization, fights against the Nigerian government. 
  • Since 2011: countless attacks on churches, schools police stations, universities and other institutions. 
  • May 2013: In the States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa declare state of emergency.
  • Conflict spreads to neighboring countries Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
  • USA define Boko Haram a terrorist organization. 
  • March 2015: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekan pledges allegiance to ISIS. Six days later, it was officially accepted by ISIS.



  • Since 2009: more than 20,000 people killed
  • Mass abductions of women and girls
  • Children misused as suicide bombers: The number of children involved in ‘suicide’ attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger has risen sharply from 4 in 2014 to 44 in 2015. More than 75 per cent of the children involved in the attacks are girls. 
  • According to UNICEF, between January 2014 and February 2016, Cameroon recorded the highest number of suicide attacks involving children (21), followed by Nigeria (17) and Chad (2).

Between 2.1 and 2.6 million people fled their homes.

Only in 2015: 132 terroristic attacks were committed in Nigeria 



According to information provided by OCHA: 

More than 2000 schools in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad permanently closed after repeated attacks by Boko Haram.


Recent attacks committed by Fulani in Nigeria: 

According to a report by Bishop Joseph D. Bagobiri of the diocese of Kafanchan, in the last three months of 2016, over half the territory in the southern part of Kaduna State has witnessed an intensification of attacks by the Fulani Herdsmen Terrorists (FHT), a terror group drawn from the nomadic pastoralists of the Fulani ethnic group53 villages burned down, 808 people murdered and 57 wounded, 1,422 houses and 16 churches destroyed.


Violent reaction to cartoons of Mohammed published by “Charlie Hebdo” in Niger.

On 16th and 17th January 2015 there were countrywide upheavals with violence directed above all at Christians. The violence had begun as a reaction to the statements of solidarity for the victims of the terrorist attack on the editorial offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in Paris. 10 people were killed, and within a few hours 72 churches were attacked and burned, together with numerous schools and other Christian properties, such as the houses of pastors and priests and Christian shops and businesses. In the space of just four hours roughly 80 percent of the Christian churches in the country were destroyed. Most severely affected were the capital Niamey and the town of Zinder.

According to information ACN received from the local Church, in the capital Niamey twelve out of fourteen Catholic churches were looted and then burned to the ground. Two convents of religious sisters were also attacked. ACN granted an emergency aid of 29,800 Euro. 

For the foreseeable future, Islamic fundamentalism, penetrating the country from neighbouring countries, represents the greatest threat to security, to interreligious relations and indeed to religious freedom generally in Niger. There are many indications of an increase in Islamist activity. For example, in recent years Al Qaeda has repeatedly attempted to abduct Western civilians in the country, while from neighbouring Nigeria the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram has been constantly extending the range of its activities into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Their ultimate aim is to establish an Islamic state with the strictest interpretation of the Islamic Shari‘a law.


Humanitarian situation in 2016:  

  • 80,000 refugees from Nigeria are living in a huge refugee camp in the Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo. Among them there are 5,000 Catholics.  

In 2015, ACN granted 14;900 € for the construction of a Chapel for the Catholic refugees. 

  • over 50,000 Cameroonian IDPs from villages situated directly at the border have fled because the situation there is particularly dangerous. Most of them have found shelter with friends, acquaintances or relatives. 

In 2015, ACN granted an emergency aid of 75,000 Euro to enable the diocese to help the IDPs.




map of cameroonNorthern Cameroon 

The Diocese Maroua-Mokolo is located along the border to Nigeria. Already in the past, Boko Haram has used the villages on northern Cameroon, on the Nigerian frontier, as places to retreat to for the terrorists seeking to escape the retaliation by the Nigerian army. Over time, however, more and more weapons have been smuggled into the region. Additionally, in 2013 Boko Haram took advantage of the elections by fraudulently obtaining Cameroonian identity documents, which they are now using to escape government controls and remain unchallenged in Cameroon. 


Abductions of priests and a nun in 2013/14

One of the earliest warning signs of the spread of the terrorist incursions was the abduction of a French family in February 2013, followed in November of the same year by the abduction of a French priest, Father Georges Vandenbeusch, as well as of two Italian missionary priests and a nun from Canada in April 2014, but each of them was released again after a few weeks. 


Deterioration of the situation in 2014

Since July 2014 the attacks have been almost incessant, and above all during the period from 24 December 2014 to 8 January 2015 there was "not a single day when peace prevailed", as bishop Bruno Ateba Edo explained to ACN. Heavily armed men, travelling in threes or fours on motorcycles are "sowing panic" in the region. People have also observed a "degree of professionalisation" of these fighters, the bishop adds. The use of landmines from October 2014 onwards likewise marked a new phase in the strategy of terror. The infrastructure of the affected region – already one of the poorest in Cameroon – has been severly damaged.

According to information provided by the bishop, as of December 2014, within a few months no fewer than two thousand Cameroonian children and adolescents have been seized by Boko Haram, including a number of girls, either by means of financial inducements for their families, or of simply abducting them by force. 





Kenyan citizens have been the target of numerous terrorist attacks in recent years, particularly since the country stepped up military interventions in Somalia against Al-Shabaab forces in October 2011. 


Some of the most deadly terrorist attacks: 

21st September 2013: The massive attack on the upmarket shopping mall of Westlands, in which at least 67 people were killed.

14th June 2014: About 100 armed men attacked Mpeketoni town, a town in Lamu County, killing at least 49 people and destroying 26 buildings and some other properties. The victims were stabbed, beheaded, hacked to death or shot by gunfire. The following day Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.[8]

2nd April 2015: 147 students from Garisa University College were killed and more that 80 injured by Al-Shabaab militants. The Islamists, who claimed responsibility for the attack, seized 700 students and separated the Muslims from the Christians. Reports stated that the attackers freed those who identified as Muslims and killed those who described themselves as Christians. The siege ended the same day when all four of the attackers were killed. A reward was offered for the organiser of the attack. Five men were later admitted into custody in connection with the attack, which was the deadliest in Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy.




map of tanzaniaTanzania 

While in the mainland of Tanzania Christians form a majority of the population, the archipelago Zanzibar – which since 1964 has been a part of the United Republic of Tanzania, but which is self-governing, with its own president and parliament – is has a Muslim population of 99%. Christians. Since 2013 the situation for Christians is deteriorating, and Christians are harassed, insulted and attacked. 








map of zanzibarZanzibar: 

In February 2013, a Catholic priest was shot dead and a church was set on fire on the Muslim-dominated archipelago of Zanzibar. (The same month also a protestant pastor was beheaded.)

On 13th September 2013, an elderly Catholic priest, Fr Anselmo Mwagambwa, was seriously injured after attackers threw acid at him on a street in the capital of Zanzibar.



Africa - Fr. Guy speaks about the attacks by Seleka in Central Africa Republic - ACN Ireland



Africa - Radio and persecution - ACN Ireland



Africa - South Sudan appeal Fr Angelo Fr Stephen - ACN Ireland



PODCAST: Nigeria



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Religious Freedom Executive Summary 2016

Religious Freedom Report