New Publication: A Deadly Cycle: Ethno-Religious Conflict in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria

Over the last decade, a political crisis in Jos, capital of Nigeria’s Plateau State, has developed into a widespread, protracted communal conflict. Up to 7,000 people have been killed since riots broke out in the city in late 2001, and ten years later a fragile calm in the city is kept only by the heavy presence of military and police forces.

The tensions between ethnic groups have been exacerbated by a combination of conflict over the allocation of resources, electoral competition, fears of religious domination, and contested land rights. The presence of well-organized armed groups in rural areas, the proliferation of weapons, and the sharp rise in gun fatalities within Jos all point to a risk of future large-scale violence.

A Deadly Cycle: Ethno-Religious Conflict in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria—a new Working Paper from the Geneva Declaration Secretariat—examines the root causes of conflict in Jos, mapping the spread of violence. The report first outlines the historical background and socio-economic characteristics of Plateau State, and then examines the causes of the conflict, and local perceptions of the current situation. After considering the characteristics of urban and rural violence, the report offers an overview of violence prevention and peace-building efforts.

A Deadly Cycle is based on field research carried out in Jos in November and December 2010, including interviews with local residents, community and religious leaders, local NGO staff, journalists, university researchers, ward heads, and local politicians.


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The Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development is a diplomatic initiative aimed at addressing the interrelations between armed violence and development. The Geneva Declaration Secretariat is hosted by the Small Arms Survey .