UN Urges Nigeria to Stop Ethnic, Religious Violence

Posted September 9th, 2011 at 9:15 am (UTC-5)
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The United Nations has urged Nigeria to stop ethnic and religious violence in its so-called Middle Belt, where it says fighting has killed up to 70 people since August.

A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Nigeria to deal with the root causes of fighting, particularly among Muslim and Christian youths in the Jos area.

Spokesman Rupert Colville said Friday that violence in recent weeks has included the hacking deaths of ten people, including a family of eight in a village near Jos.

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

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 Middle Belt is located in the center of Africa's most populous nation, dividing the predominately Christian south from the mainly Muslim north.

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