Nigeria’s Bishops Offer Help to Boko Haram Survivors
Nigerian bishops are stepping forward to assist hundreds of young women who were rescued recently from Boko Haram, as the head of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) denies it is advocating abortion for the survivors.
“The Catholic Church in Nigeria in cooperation with all people of goodwill is ever prepared to provide every measure of support to accelerate the healing, rehabilitation and resettlement of the victims so that they can swiftly be reintegrated into the society,” said Bishop Anselm Umoren, the Chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) Health Committee.
After 700 young women were rescued by the Nigerian army from the terrorists in April, over 200 in a camp for displaced persons were reported to be pregnant, some by their captors.
Abortion activists quickly demanded the UN provide abortions for the women, and for the U.S. to use humanitarian aid to pay for abortions. But aid workers and religious leaders in Nigeria rejected this.
“It is not tenable the suggestion that killing the babies conceived through rape by the terrorists is the most humane action to take in this instance,” Umoren told Agenzia Fides.
“Since the babies are ignorant and innocent of the crimes against their mothers, it is unethical to punish them for the sins and offenses of their erring fathers.”
UNFPA has sent mental health counselors and reproductive health kits to the camps. These include STD and HIV tests, family planning, safe delivery kits, soap and menstrual materials.
“We have not advocated, either through the government or through any other agency, for abortion or sterilization as has been carried in the Nigerian press,” said Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director for UNFPA.
“We don’t offer this and we do not advocate for this. I need to make it clear. We support life, we support people, we support them to make their decisions to be able to carry their pregnancies.”
Abortion is illegal in Nigeria.
The Bishop of Diocese of Lagos West, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Rt. Rev James Olusola Odedeji, also condemned calls for abortion on the pregnant girls as he called for prayers for newly elected officials to lead in Godliness, reported AllAfrica.