Appoint a Special Envoy to Nigeria and Lake Chad

Hon. Donald J. Trump
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The ongoing and intensifying slaughter of Christians and others in Nigeria is intolerable. I urge you to designate immediately a Special Envoy for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region to coordinate and implement an effective U.S. government response to this crisis.

As you know, all of Nigeria’s Christians – who make up roughly half of the country’s population of 200 million, but most especially those in the northern and central regions of the country, are under threat. In recent years, entire Christian villages have been wiped out by jihadists of Boko Haram and the Fulani.

For much of this time, the U.S. government has exhibited, at best, a willful blindness towards the deliberate targeting of Nigeria’s Christian population by both Boko Haram and the Fulani. At worst, it has treated such attacks with moral equivalence as simply “clashes between Muslims and Christians.”

But the 15,000 Christians killed in Nigeria and the 900-plus churches torched there over the past few years tell a very different story. Such horrors are the direct result of unprovoked attacks designed, in the words of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, to render the north of Nigeria “free of Christians” and “ruled by Sharia.”

As the Christian Association of Nigeria put it last summer in response to portrayals of such attacks as “clashes” between farmer and herdsmen:

How can it be a “clash” when one group is persistently attacking, killing, maiming, destroying and the other group is persistently being killed, maimed and their places of worship destroyed? How can it be a clash when the herdsmen are hunting farmers in their own villages/communities and farmers are running for their lives?

According to the Global Terrorism Index issued by the Institute for Economics and Peace, in 2018, Nigeria once again has the dubious distinction of being the world’s third most terrorism-impacted nation. And, as is often the case when one nation is wracked by terrorism, the repercussions extend far beyond its own borders. For example:

• In the Lake Chad Region, there are estimated to be 2.2 million refugees displaced by the violence in Nigeria that is now impacting Cameroon, Chad and Niger, as well.
• The attacks that killed American military personnel in Niger in February, 2018 were the result of al-Qaeda operatives indoctrinating members of Nigeria’s Fulani ethnic group. Today, a large majority of the Fulani cattle-herders have been radicalized and have, along with Boko Haram, been supported and provided with weapons by those seeking the complete Islamization of Nigeria.
• The U.S. government’s Famine Early Warning System has warned that Nigeria constitutes one of the planet’s largest food insecurity crises. In addition to the millions of Nigerians experiencing a food emergency, the people of Chad and Niger are facing a similar disaster.
• In 2017, more Nigerians than any other nationality crossed the Mediterranean illegally to Europe. An estimated 10,000 Nigerian women and girls are victims of human trafficking in Italy alone. If the anti-Christian violence in Nigeria results in the implosion of that nation of 200 million, it is certain that the refugee flows that have rocked the European continent to date will pale by comparison.

Consequently, it is absolutely imperative that the United States address the escalating crisis in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. To do so, every element of our government must be aligned and engaged, including notably: the National Security Council, the Departments of State and Defense, U.S. AID, the International Religious Freedom Commission, the U.S. United Nations mission and our intelligence community.

A proven model for accomplishing the needed interagency harmonization and effective representation in such a crisis was the role played by former Senator John Danforth as a Special Envoy for Sudan during the Bush Administration. Amb. Danforth’s stature, skills and mandate enabled him to forge unified and sound policies internally – and to advance them effectively with a Sudanese government waging genocidal war against Christians and others in its southern regions.

We respectfully urge that you appoint at once a Special Envoy of comparable stature and ability to address the present crisis in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region. This individual must command the respect and cooperation of all the relevant U.S. agencies. He or she must also enjoy the confidence of the victims of the violence and resist the tendency, in the interest of diplomacy, to treat them and their persecutors as equally culpable for the bloodshed.

Thank your for your prompt consideration of this extremely urgent request.


Save the Persecuted Christians

cc: Vice President Mike Pence
National Security Advisor John Bolton
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Secretary of Defense James Mattis
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates
Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley
Ambassador-at-Large Sam Brownback
Director of U.S. AID Mark Green
USCIRF Commissioners

Save the Persecuted Christians hosts a press conference calling for a special envoy

Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi of Jos, Nigeria at a press conference hosted by Save the Persecuted Christians at the U.S. Capitol calls on America to appoint a special envoy saying the strategic position of Nigeria in Africa demands the special attention of a special envoy.

Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS-4th) member of the Committee on Homeland Security
Rep. Ron Estes urges Trump administration to appoint a U.S. Special Envoy to Nigeria/Lake Chad.

Frank Wolf represented the 10th District of Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 2015. He is the author of the International Religious Freedom Act, which infused America’s first freedom –religious freedom –into U.S. foreign policy. Wolf serves on Save the Persecuted Christians legislative working group. The Honorable Frank Wolf urges Trump administration to appoint a U.S. Special Envoy to Nigeria/Lake Chad

Founder, President and CEO of Save the Persecuted Christians. Save the Persecuted Christians is working to raise awareness of the global persecution of Christians to build an irresistible grassroots force to impel real costs on the persecutors for the commission of these crimes against humanity. Frank Gaffney of Save the Persecuted Christians urges Trump administration to appoint a U.S. Special Envoy to Nigeria/Lake Chad.

Director of Religious Liberty Programs for the Institute on Religion & Democracy
At the Institute since 1993, Faith McDonnell is an expert on international religious freedom with a special focus on Sudan and South Sudan. She is a founding members of the Save the Persecuted Christians coalition. Faith McDonnell of the Institute on Religion & Democracy urges Trump administration to appoint a U.S. Special Envoy to Nigeria/Lake Chad.

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