How Boko Haram Survivors Were Raped and Starved by Military ‘Liberators’

  • Amnesty International tells all in a new report

A band of protesters ostensibly hired by the Nigerian military authorities, this Tuesday, staged a demonstration in Abuja against Amnesty International (AI). The protest anticipated a report the international human rights body was about to make public.

AI released the report this Thursday anyway.

“They betrayed us” is the result of a two-year investigation and interviews with more than 250 people affected by the critical situation in north-east Nigeria. It examines what happened to the people who fled or were forced from rural towns and villages that had been under Boko Haram’s control before the terrorist group was routed since 2015.

Key findings:

  • Rape of starving women and sexual exploitation
  • Deaths as a result of hunger 
  • Women with children detained in Giwa Barracks

Its investigations reveal how the Nigerian military and Civilian Joint Task Force (Civilian JTF) have carried out systematic patterns of violence and abuse against the population who fled Boko Haram’s rule, including war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. Women told AI how they have been raped in exchange for food, and the report contains evidence that thousands of people, including children, have starved to death in the camps in Borno State since 2015.

In some cases, the abuse appears to be part of a pattern of persecution of anyone perceived to have a connection to Boko Haram. Women reported being beaten and called “Boko Haram wives” by the security officials when they complained about their treatment.

The military has also screened everyone arriving to the satellite camps, and in some locations detained most men and boys aged between 14 and 40 as well as women who travelled unaccompanied by their husbands. The detention of so many men has left women to care for their families alone.

Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said: “It is absolutely shocking that people who had already suffered so much under Boko Haram have been condemned to further horrendous abuse by the Nigerian military.

Instead of receiving protection from the authorities, women and girls have been forced to succumb to rape in order to avoid starvation or hunger.”

Ojigho challenged Nigeria’s leader: “Now is the time for President Buhari to demonstrate his frequently expressed commitment to protect the human rights of displaced people in north-east Nigeria. The only way to end these horrific violations is by ending the climate of impunity in the region and ensuring that no one can get away with rape or murder.

“The Nigerian authorities must investigate – or make public their previous investigations – on war crimes and crimes against humanity in the north-east. They must also urgently ensure, with the support of donor governments, that people living in the satellite camps receive adequate food, and that those arbitrarily detained in military detention facilities are released.”


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