Dozens of people were killed in a church charity drive in southern Nigeria on Saturday morning. CNN reported that most of the victims were children.
According to police, the food was distributed by Christian worshipers of the “King’s Company” at a sports facility in Port Harcourt. Local media reported that a large crowd had gathered for the event. Many have lined up since Friday.
A police spokeswoman said people had run out of patience and had started moving forward. Even before the event officially started, the gate to the sports complex was opened. “Unfortunately, the crowd became angry and all attempts by the organizers to restore calm failed, resulting in a stampede.” At least 31 people were killed in the ensuing crowds. According to an eyewitness, among the victims were several children and a pregnant woman. Seven others were injured and taken to hospital.
Pictures on social media show crying families caring for injured children in front of the hospital. Stray shoes and sandals lying on the street. The Nigerian police had announced a criminal investigation to determine the exact circumstances of the tragedy. The church said in a statement that it was “very sad”. She says she was totally surprised by the high turnout.
In recent years, similar tragedies have frequently occurred in Nigeria during food distribution. In 2021, for example, seven women were run over by a mob when a humanitarian agency distributed food in Borno state, in the north of the country.
Port Harcourt is the capital of the Nigerian Rivers State and is located in the Niger Delta. It is Nigeria’s major oil hub, and the continent’s largest oil producer. Despite this wealth, according to a recent World Bank report, four out of ten Nigerians live below the poverty line.
This situation was exacerbated by the Ukrainian crisis. With supplies of wheat and gas stopped, food and fuel prices rose even more.
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