02/14/2019 Niger (International Christian Concern) – It has been four months since Father Luigi Macalli from the Society for African Missions was kidnapped from Bomoanga, Niger. During the kidnapping, another priest, from India, and two nuns were also attacked, but were able to escape the eight gunmen. Father Macalli was one of six missionary priests in that area that were serving the people of Niger. After the kidnapping took place, five of those missionaries had to leave for safety, including the three other European priests.
Since the kidnapping and subsequent exodus of the priests, the local community has been suffering. As reported by Independent Catholic News, all social and pastoral initiatives have been suspended except Masses, which can only take place in the main town. Travel throughout this area is severally restricted for vehicles as roads are inaccessible and there is a possibility of attack by Islamic radicals commonly from Burkina Faso.
With this loss of aid and leadership, the local church and people of Bomoanga have suffered. Even the parliamentarians in Niger, who are vastly Muslim, agreed that the loss of the Churches support will hurt the country and local people. Diara Banyoura, one such parliamentarian, said “what happened is really deplorable” and that the departure of Catholic priests would be a “disaster” for the population, which reportedly relies heavily on their projects. Niger is one of the poorest Nations in the world and receives very little aid. It is also primarily Muslim with 99 percent of its population following Mohammad. Though violent attacks on Christians in Niger are rare, they are considered second class citizens.