UN Urges Nigeria to End Ethnic, Religious Violence

Posted September 9th, 2011 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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The United Nations has expressed concern about a surge of ethnic and religious violence in central Nigeria, where officials say a father and his seven children were killed.

Officials say the family and at least one other person were killed in a village just outside the restive city of Jos.

A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said fighting in the country's so-called middle belt has killed up to 70 people since August.

In a statement Friday, spokesman Rupert Colville called on Nigeria to deal with the root causes of fighting, particularly among Muslim and Christian youths in the Jos area.

He added the recent violence has included the hacking deaths of 10 people, including another family of eight near Jos earlier this month.

Colville said Nigerian forces must respond to outbreaks of violence in an “even-handed manner” to avoid making the situation worse.

The middle belt separates Nigeria's predominately Christian south from the mainly Muslim north.

The U.N. agency called on local and national government officials to take effective measures to prevent ethnic and religious divisions, including curbing hate speech and increasing reconciliation efforts in communities.

The U.N. human rights agency said some of the underlying causes in the region include discrimination, poverty and land disputes.