© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Women who survived Boko Haram are facing abuse, neglect… Amnesty International
AMNESTY International, a global rights organisation, has said that thousands of women who fled Boko Haram controlled areas, are facing serious abuse and neglect in the Internally Displaced Persons’ camps where they are being detained and refused to leave.
The group made this known in a statement issued on Friday in commemoration of the International Women’s Day. The statement noted that more than a year after an investigation by the group revealed the poor treatment being meted out on these women, the situation has remained largely the same.
“Many of these women still struggle to access food and other basic items in camps for internally displaced persons are restricted from leaving. Those who speak up about their ordeal face harassment from government officials, particularly the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA),” the statement read in part.
“The combination of movement restrictions and lack of assistance leaves them at increased risk of sexual exploitation by members of the security forces, present in and around the camps.”
Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said the situation was “unacceptable”, and urged the Nigerian government to pay special attention to it.
“We have long documented that women are being made to exchange sex for food and livelihood opportunities by members of the security forces just to survive and feed their children,” Ojigho said.
“Last year we issued a report which documented patterns of rape, starvation and arbitrary detention by the security forces, but the government and military shamefully dismissed the findings.
“A follow-up with the survivors shows they are on the verge of losing hope of ever getting justice, with previous promises of an investigation leading nowhere. However, they will not give up.”
Ojigho also called on the members of Nigeria’s National Assembly, especially the Senate, to fulfil its pledge to investigate concerns raised in a former Amnesty International report “so that survivors can get justice”.
“The Boko Haram conflict forced thousands of women to live in squalid conditions in internally displaced person camps. It is the responsibility of the Nigerian authorities to protect them and bring to justice all those suspected of exploiting them,” the statement further read.
The investigation by Amnesty International has shown shows that some of the women in the IDP camps in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, have little or no access to food assistance and, as a result, are battling with hunger and malnutrition.
“In many cases, their situation is made more precarious by the ongoing detention of male family members; thousands of men were arbitrarily detained or subjected to enforced disappearance as they fled intensified fighting from late 2015 onwards. Many of these women do not know whether their husbands are dead or alive,” AI stated.
“The failure by the authorities to provide a mechanism for family members of detainees to obtain information on the whereabouts and well being of their relatives, and the denial of information to those who approached the military for information, has caused mental suffering that constitutes ill-treatment under international human rights law.
“Amnesty International is also calling on authorities to investigate credible allegations of rampant corruption made by those affected at internally displaced person camps.”