Report: Nigerian Officials Abuse Women In Refugee Camps

Internally displaced women at the Girei camp in Yola assembling their new sewing machines on Feb. 12, 2015, in Adamawa state, Nigeria. Photo: Modupe Ozolua
Internally displaced women at the Girei camp in Yola assembling their new sewing machines on Feb. 12, 2015, in Adamawa state, Nigeria. Photo: Modupe Ozolua

Camps for people displaced by Boko Haram lack basic security and amenities

Nigerian government and security officials have sexually assaulted women and girls who sought shelter at refugee camps after attacks by Boko Haram, Human Rights Watch said in a report. The rights group called out the government for failing to penalize abusers and provide the displaced people at the camps with basic amenities.

In July, the group recorded rape and sexual abuse cases of 43 women and girls living at camps in Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram. Four of the women said their assaulters drugged and raped them, while 37 said officials forced them to have sex either through false marriage promises or financial assistance. The victims said they feared retaliation if they reported their attackers.

One 17-year-old girl said a policeman approached her for “friendship” in the camp, then raped her. She later found out she was pregnant.

“When I informed him about my condition, he threatened to shoot and kill me if I told anyone else,” the girl said. “So I was too afraid to report him.”

Residents at the camps also battle with insufficient amenities and restricted movement, which leaves them more vulnerable to the advances of the officials. One woman, who survived an attack on the Borno town of Walassa, said she accepted the advances of a soldier because he brought food and clothes for herself and her four children. The 30-year-old mother said the man suddenly stopped coming, and she realized she was pregnant.

“I felt so angry with him for deceiving me,” she said. “Now my situation is worse as the pregnancy makes me sick, and I have no one to help me care for my children.”

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SOURCE: WORLD Magazine
Onize Ohikere