World Tour – Christians in Nigeria and locusts in Kenya

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Christians rally in Nigeria—We start today here in Africa.

AUDIO: [Christian rally in Nigeria]

Christians rallied across Nigeria this month to protest ongoing violence against believers. The Christian Association of Nigeria urged communities to hold “prayer walks” to raise awareness about the targeted killings.

An estimated 5 million people participated, according to local media reports. Demonstrators prayed, sang worship songs, and held banners saying things like,  “All souls are precious to God” and “We demand justice for this genocide.”

Boko Haram insurgents and Fulani herdsmen continue to target Christian villages and communities. They’ve also stepped up a campaign of abductions and executions.

KUKAH: [Man speaking]

During a funeral mass for an 18-year-old seminary student kidnapped and killed last month, Bishop Matthew Kukah urged mourners to cling to the gospel amid persecution. He said, we must “become more robust in presenting the values of Christianity, especially our message of love and non-violence to a violent society.”

Locusts plague Kenya—Next we go to East Africa.

AUDIO: [Spraying Kenyan locusts]

Members of Kenya’s national youth service are training to fight a different kind of terrorism: swarms of locusts. The insects have already devastated food supplies in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. And they were reported in Uganda last week.

Kello Harsama is with Kenya’s ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. He says the locusts have invaded 17 of the country’s 47 counties.

HARSAMA: And that constitutes three quarters of the country’s land mass and this is a very serious threat to our food production.

UN officials warn if the locusts aren’t controlled they will put millions of people at risk of going hungry.

The locusts are also causing misery 2,500 miles away in Pakistan. Officials there declared a national emergency earlier this month. The insects have destroyed 40 percent of the country’s crops since last year. That has forced the government to import grain and other food supplies in a bid to address shortages and rising prices.

Tension between Russia and Belarus heat up—Next to Eastern Europe.

Tensions between Belarus and Russia continue to increase after talks between their two leaders earlier this month.

PUTIN: [Speaking Russian]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko met to discuss efforts to integrate their countries’ economies. But after the meeting, Lukashenko claimed Russia’s real goal is to “swallow up” its smaller neighbor.

Belarus relies on Russia for 80 percent of its energy needs. In a bid to gain the upper hand in negotiations, the Kremlin recently cut off oil supplies.

During a visit to Belarus earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Lukashenko to look to the United States for help.

POMPEO: Our energy producers stand ready to deliver 100 percent of the oil you need at competitive prices. We’re the biggest oil producer in the world and all you have to do is call us.

The Trump administration wants to build closer ties with Belarus to counter Russia’s influence. That’s despite the country’s reputation as the last dictatorship in Europe. Lukashenko has held power since 1994. Concerns over human rights abuses in the country prompted U.S. sanctions in 2006. But Pompeo said Belarus has made progress toward addressing those concerns.

That’s this week’s World Tour. For WORLD Radio, I’m Onize Ohikere reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.

(AP Photo/Ben Curtis) In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, desert locusts jump up from the ground and fly away as a cameraman walks past, in Nasuulu Conservancy, northern Kenya. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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