Category Archives: Humanitarian Issues

Nigeria – 100 killed in Plateau and Tabara as Fulani invade

Punch

Fulani mercenaries

No fewer than 100 people, including a pastor and three soldiers, were killed at the weekend and Monday in Plateau and Taraba states.

Seventy of the deaths were recorded in Karim Lamido and Takum local government areas of Taraba State and 30 in two villages at the Barkin Ladi LGA   of Plateau State.

It was learnt that suspected Fulani herdsmen   invaded Vat and Zakupang , killing Pastor Luka Gwom of the Church of Christ in Nation and 29 others in the early hours of Monday.

Spokesman for the Special Task Force,   Ikedichi Iweha, told our correspondent in Jos   that the herdsmen took the action following the theft of about 400 of their cows.   More than 300   of the stolen cows, according to him, were later found and returned to their owners.

He explained that the cows were stolen in Jos East and   taken to Barakin Ladi, a development that made the herdsmen to launch the attacks.

The Chairman of Barkin Ladi LGA,   Emmanuel Lomang, who also confirmed the incident to journalists   in Jos, said the   attackers   killed 17 people   in Vat and 13 others in Zakupang, where the Minister of Water Resources, Serah Ochekpe, hails from.

Lomang decried what he called “incessant   attacks” on his people   and challenged the security agencies, especially the Special Task Force to arrest the perpetrators.

The village head of Kapwen in Foron District,   Gwom Ishaku Pam,   confirmed Gwom’s death.

He added   that a lady, Pualina, who got married two weeks ago, was among those killed by the herdsmen.

Pam said the series of   attacks on the villagers   had been causing them sleepless nights.

Efforts to contact the state Police Public Relations Officer,   Emmanuel Abuh,   proved abortive as his telephone could not be reached.

The latest Plateau incident came as the Taroh people in Wase condemned the invasion of three of their communities by soldiers on reprisal on Saturday.

The soldiers were said to have arrived Kadarko, Kurmi and Wadata   in about 40 vehicles   following reports of alleged killing of six of their colleagues at Angwan Nanmi in Karin Lamido LGA.

Although Iweha said that 28 people were killed, the traditional ruler of Kadarko,   Lot Nde, put the figure at 39.

The STF spokesman added that the soldiers, who destroyed an armoury   in Kadarko, had succeeded in flushing   out militiamen that had been terrorising people along the Plateau -Taraba border.

He said,   “I want to give you an update on the military operation to flush out militia from Kadarko. I wish to let you know that the operation is completed and soldiers killed 28 of the militia. One soldier was killed in the encounter. Our men also destroyed an armoury used by the militiamen in Kadarko.

“The incident actually started on April 28 when the militiamen ambushed and killed six soldiers. The manner these soldiers were killed was dehumanising because their eyes were plucked out; heads decapitated and their bodies severed.

“Four of our men are still missing. All these     prompted the 3 Armourd Division and STF to carry out an operation to flush out these militiamen.

“We have now completed the exercise and calm has been restored to the area. We implore residents to cooperate   by giving us information that can help us to do our job.”

The   Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights,   Beni Lar,   condemned the invasion , saying it was a conspiracy against the Taroh.

Lar, in a statement in Jos on Monday, vowed to report the incident to   the United Nations, the International Criminal Court   and the National Human Rights Commission.

“This attack is a serious violation of human rights to and an attack against humanity,” the lawmaker   added, calling on   relevant government agencies to investigate it.

Like Lar, the Secretary   General of Ngwang Ishi ‘O’ Taroh, Pastor Nanlir Napbut, described the killings   as genocide against the Taroh.

In   Karim-Lamido LGA of Plateau State, 27 people also lost their lives following a reprisal   by the military on Saturday.

It was gathered that suspected Fulani gunmen had   ambushed and killed six soldiers between Amar and Kambari villages in the council. Three other soldiers   were reported missing after the incident but their bodies were later found in bushes.

The soldiers were said to be on a routine patrol of the area when they were ambushed and killed.

The Chairman of the LGA,   Bobboi   Bendu, could not confirm the   casualty figure, but         he said there was an exchange of fire in the area.

“Two villages were   razed but I can’t tell the exact number of casualties at the moment. The report I am getting indicates that some persons were killed,” he added.

In Takum LGA, 21 people were   killed on Sunday by suspected Kuteb youths.

The youths were said to be also on a revenge mission over the killing of 13 of their kinsmen along the Takum-Katsina-Ala Road and Takum-Kashinbilla Road by gunmen on Friday and Saturday .

It was gathered that while the soldiers were in search of their   missing colleagues,   suspected gunmen opened fire on them but they replied, killing over 27.

The state Police Public Relations Officer,   Joseph Kwaji,who   said he was not aware of the killings in Karim Lamido, stated that nine people were killed in Takum following a clash between the Tiv and Kuteb.

Tension is   however said to be mounting in Takum and its environs as the Kuteb youths are alleged to be   attacking the Tiv.

The development made the   council Chairman, Caleb   Babafi, imposed a 24-hour curfew on the   town.

Meanwhile, a group known as the Concerned Taraba Tiv Youth Frontier,   has condemned the killings   in Takum and its environs.

The group,   in a statement   by its Vice- Chairman,   Kater Amah, called on the state government to quickly intervene and ensure the protection of lives and property.

It called on both parties to lay down their arms and embrace peace in the interest of   unity and development of the council and the state.

Copyright PUNCH.

Nigeria – freed Boko Haram abductees talk of ordeal and stonings

Punch

Some of the women and children... on Saturday

Boko Haram fighters killed older boys and men in front of their families before taking women and children into the forest where many died of hunger and disease, freed captives told Reuters on Sunday after they were brought to a refugee camp in Yola, Adamawa State.

The Nigerian army rescued hundreds of women and children last week from the Islamist fighters in Sambisa Forest in a major operation that has turned international attention to the plight of hostages.

After days on the road in pickup trucks, hundreds were released on Sunday into the care of authorities at a refugee camp in Yola, to be fed and treated for injuries. They spoke to reporters for the first time.

“They didn’t allow us to move an inch,” said one of the freed women, Asabe Umaru, describing her captivity. “If you needed the toilet, they followed you. We were kept in one place. We were under bondage.

“We thank God to be alive today. We thank the Nigerian army for saving our lives,” she added.

Two hundred and seventy-five women and children, some with heads or limbs in bandages, arrived in the camp late on Saturday.

Nearly 700 kidnap victims have been freed from the Islamist group’s forest stronghold since Tuesday, with the latest group of 234 women and children liberated on Friday.

“When we saw the soldiers we raised our hands and shouted for help. Boko Haram who were guarding us started stoning us so we would follow them to another hideout, but we refused because we were sure the soldiers would rescue us,” Umaru, a 24 year-old mother of two, told Reuters.

The prisoners suffered malnutrition and disease, she said. “Every day we witnessed the death of one of us and waited for our turn,” Mrs. Umaru added.

Another freed captive, Cecilia Abel, said her husband and first son had been killed in her presence before the militia forced her and her remaining eight children into the forest.

For two weeks before the military arrived she had barely eaten.

“We were fed only ground dry maize in the afternoons. It was not good for human consumption,” she said. “Many of us that were captured died in Sambisa Forest. Even after our rescue about 10 died on our way to this place.”

Amnesty International estimates the insurgents, who are intent on bringing West Africa under Islamist rule, have taken more than 2,000 women and girls captive since the start of 2014. Many have been used as cooks, sex slaves or human shields.

The prisoners freed so far do not appear to include any of more than 200 schoolgirls snatched from school dormitories in Chibok town a year ago, an incident that drew global attention to the six-year-old insurgency.

Umaru said her group of prisoners never came in contact with the missing Chibok girls.

Meanwhile, the 23 Armoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army based in Yola, Adamawa State, has handed over 275 women and children rescued from insurgents in Sambisa Forest to the National Emergency Management Agency for rehabilitation.

The statement quoted the Commander, 23 Armoured Brigade, Col. Aba Popoola, as saying that “on behalf of the Nigerian Army, I want to hand over 275 rescued women and children that we rescued from Sambisa Forest to the National Emergency Management Agency for care and welfare.”

Receiving the rescued persons, the Director-General, NEMA, Sani Sidi, said the rescued women and children needed special attention and that the agency had made all the necessary arrangements with relevant stakeholders for trauma counselling.

Ghuluze noted that the ministry had ensured regular supply of drugs to the clinics.

BBC

Women and children rescued from Boko Haram in Sambisa forest by the Nigeria military arrive by truck at the internally displaced people's camp in Yola on 2 May 2015
The freed women and children travelled for days on pick-up trucks to the Yola camp

Former hostages held by Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria say some fellow captives were stoned to death as the army approached to rescue them.

The women said Boko Haram fighters started pelting them when they refused to run away as the army came nearer.

A group of nearly 300 women and children was brought out of the vast Sambisa forest to a government camp.

The military says it has rescued more than 700 people in the past week in an offensive against the Islamist group.

The women said several were killed in the stoning, but they did not know how many.

The survivors said that when they were initially captured, the militants had killed men and older boys in front of their families before taking women and children into the forest.

Some were forced into marriage.

They said the Islamists never let them out of their sight – not even when they went to the toilet.

“They didn’t allow us to move an inch,” one of the freed women, Asabe Umaru, told Reuters news agency. “We were kept in one place. We were under bondage.”

One woman described how they were fed just one meal a day.

“We were fed only ground dry maize in the afternoons. It was not good for human consumption,” Cecilia Abel told Reuters. This led to malnutrition, disease and death.

“Every day, we witnessed the death of one of us and waited for our turn,” Umaru, a 24-year-old mother of two, told Reuters.

The women and children travelled for three days on pick-up trucks from the vast Sambisa forest where they were rescued, to the camp in the city of Yola.

Through interviews, officials have determined that almost all those rescued are from Gumsuri, a village near the town of Chibok, the Associated Press news agency reports.

It does not appear that any of those released are from the group of nearly 300 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram a year ago in a mass abduction that led to worldwide protests calling for the girls’ release.

Thousands have been killed in northern Nigeria since Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009 to create an Islamic state.

In February, Nigeria’s military, backed by troops from neighbouring countries, launched a major offensive against the Islamist fighters, recapturing Boko Haram territory taken in the previous year.

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Nigeria – armybrrees more Boko Haram abductees

BBC

Boko Haram: Nigerian army frees another 234 women and children

A group of women and children rescued by the Nigerian army. Photo: 30 April 2015
NMore than 500 women and children have been rescued by the army in the past few days

Another 234 women and children have been rescued from Boko Haram militants in Nigeria, the military has announced.

It said the operation took place on Thursday in the vast Sambisa forest – a militant hideout – in the north-east of the country.

It was not immediately clear if any of more than 200 girls abducted from a school in Chibok in April 2014 were among those freed.

Nearly 300 women and children were freed by the army earlier this week.

In a tweet, the Nigerian military wrote: “FLASH: Another set of 234 women and children were rescued through the Kawuri and Konduga end of the #Sambisa Forest on Thursday.”

It said the freed hostages were being screened to establish their identities.

The military earlier said it had destroyed 13 camps belonging to the Islamist insurgents in the Sambisa forest, which surrounds a reserve in Borno.

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Thousands have been killed in northern Nigeria since Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009 to create an Islamic state.

In February, Nigeria’s military, backed by troops from neighbouring countries, launched a major offensive against the Islamist fighters.

It has recaptured much of the territory Boko Haram had taken in the previous year.

Burundi – President warns of severe response

DW

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza issued a stern warning to protesters against his administration on Friday, warning of “severe sanctions” for those involved as the demonstrations rolled into their sixth day despite mass arrests.

“A judiciary commission has been set up to investigate that insurrectional movement. Within one month, the commission will issue its report. Severe sanctions will be taken against those who will be found guilty,” Nkurunziza said in Labor Day message.

The protestors in the capital Bujumbura are upset that Nkurunziza is seeking a third term despite a constitutional two-term limit. His supporters argue that because in his first term he was appointment by lawmakers, and not voted in, it does not violate the constitution. The two-term limit is a legacy of a 2000 peace accord that ended a 12-year civil war.

In spite of the warning, thousands of demonstrators continued to make their anger known on Friday, demanding the president abandon his campaign. According to the Red Cross, seven people were killed and more than sixty injured in clashes between protesters and police on Thursday.

Students flee to US embassy

Hundreds of students, finding their university shuttered on Friday, sought refuge outside the US embassy in Bujumbura.

“We are here for security because we have been chased from the campuses,” a student who wished to remain anonymous told Reuters news agency. Hundreds of others gathered together outside the wall of the embassy.

The students said the American ambassador, Dawn Liberi, had come to speak with them and assured them she had addressed their plight to the proper authorities, but did not promise them asylum.

Burundi will hold parliamentary elections on June 26. Last Saturday, President Nkurunziza was nominated once more as the candidate from the ruling CNDD-FDD party.

es/jil (dpa, Reuters)

UN denies Central African Republic abuse cover up

BBC

Central African Republic child abuse: UN denies ‘cover up’

French troops patrol to secure an area after exchanges of gunfire during a disarmament operation in the Combattant neighbourhood near the airport of Bangui, on December 9, 2013.
Soldiers from France, Chad, and Equatorial Guinea have been accused of child sexual abuse

The United Nations has denied allegations it covered up child abuse by French troops in the Central African Republic, calling them “offensive”.

A high-ranking UN employee has been suspended on suspicion of leaking an internal report on the allegations.

A UN spokesman said the report had not been made public in order to protect the identity of victims, witnesses and investigators.

The report alleged soldiers assaulted hungry children in exchange for food.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said publication of the internal report risked making some of those named in it “extremely vulnerable to reprisals”, the AFP news agency reports.

He said it was “frankly offensive and highly unlikely” that Mr Hussein would be involved in a cover up, pointing out that he had commissioned the report and was the author of the 2005 Zeid Report, which he called “the definitive UN report on sexual abuse in peacekeeping operations”. 

“The allegations of what happened to these children are abhorrent. The details obtained in interviews with alleged victims and witnesses by UN investigators… are utterly odious,” Mr Colville said.

But he said the leak was a “possible breach of strict rules that exist to protect victims, witnesses and investigators”.

‘No mercy

France – whose troops were among those accused of committing abuses – was alerted by the UN in July 2014 and opened an investigation, the French defence ministry said.

Seleka soldiers patrol in Bangui December 3, 2013
Rebels from the Seleka movement took control in the Central African Republic in 2013

AFP reports that 14 French peacekeeping soldiers – deployed to CAR help restore order after after a 2013 coup – are implicated by the report.

“If some soldiers have behaved badly, I will show no mercy,” French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday.

Soldiers from Chad and Equatorial Guinea have also been implicated in abuses, but neither country has responded publicly to the accusations.

According to the report, children as young as nine were forced to carry out sex acts in return for food.

Anders Kompass, the Swedish employee accused of leaking the report, has been suspended on full pay while an investigation takes place.

France intervened in its former colony in December 2013, nine months after a rebel alliance, Seleka, captured the capital and ousted President Francois Bozize.

The country descended into ethnic and sectarian violence, with thousands of people fleeing their homes and the UN warning that there was a high risk of genocide.

The UN took over and expanded the African peacekeeping mission in September 2014.

Central African Republic – French president says no mercy if anyone guilty of child abuse

Reuters

World Fri May 1, 2015 12:47am BST

France’s Hollande vows no mercy to soldiers if African child abuse proven

(Reuters) – President Francois Hollande vowed on Thursday to make an example of any French troops found guilty of child sex abuse in Central African Republic as an internal U.N. report suggested that French, Chadian and Equatorial Guinea troops were implicated.

The allegations, which came to light this week due to an internal U.N. report summarizing interviews with victims, risks damaging the reputation of France‘s peacekeeping operations in Africa. Reuters obtained the U.N. report on Thursday, though the Guardian newspaper was the first to report on the charges.

The report suggests that at least 13 French soldiers, two soldiers from Equatorial Guinea and three Chadian troops had been involved in alleged abuse between December 2013 and June 2014. Subsequent French inquiries identified some of them, a French judicial source said, though none had been questioned.

The 6-page report said the child victims interviewed alleged they had performed oral sex on the French troops, while accusing soldiers from Equatorial Guinea and Chad of sodomizing children. 

“If this information is confirmed … the punishment will be proportionate to the deeds. If they are serious, the punishment will be harsh,” Hollande told reporters during a visit in western France. “I will be implacable.”

There was no immediate reaction from officials in Chad and Equatorial Guinea.

Hollande is a strong advocate of using the French military to secure peace in ex-colonies such as Central African Republic or Mali, where he received a rapturous welcome in 2013 after France intervened to halt an Islamist insurgency.

France’s Defence Ministry said the abuse was alleged to have taken place at a centre for displaced people at M’Poko airport in the capital Bangui and involved about 10 children. It said it would take “all necessary measures” to establish the truth.

“It is unacceptable that kids less than 10 years old are raped like this by those sent there to protect the population,” Remy Djamouss, head of the local children’s rights agency CPDE, said in Bangui.

French prosecutors will ask for an internal French army report on the matter to be declassified, the judicial source said. The Bangui public prosecutor said he had also opened an investigation.

France intervened in Central African Republic, a former French colony, some 18 months ago to stem violence between Christian militias and largely Muslim Seleka rebels who had seized power. It started withdrawing some of its 2,000 troops this year, handing over to U.N. peace keepers.

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon confirmed on Wednesday that the U.N. office for human rights in Bangui had conducted an investigation in late spring of 2014.

He said a U.N. staff member had admitted leaking an unredacted report on the investigation before it reached top management in the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). He said that was “a serious breach of protocol” that could endanger victims.

But Bea Edwards, head of the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower advocacy protection group, rejected Haq’s criticism of the U.N. staffer, saying OHCHR had the report for weeks and did nothing. 

“As soon as (the staffer) was aware of the report and the lack of action, he contacted French law enforcement,” she told Reuters. “Within days, investigators were in the CAR.”

(This story has been refiled to restore Guinea to Equatorial Guinea throughout)

(Additional reporting by Emmanuel Jarry and John Irish in Paris, Crispin Dembassa-Kette in Bangui, Joe Bavier in Dakar and other reporters in the region; writing by Mark John; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Dan Grebler)

Nigeria – army says it has freed more abductees

BBC

freed captives
The Nigerian army has released this photo of some of the captives

Nigeria’s military says it has freed another sizeable group of people during its offensive against Boko Haram militants in the vast Sambisa forest.

One woman died and eight others were wounded as nine camps belonging to the Islamist insurgents were destroyed, army spokesman Col Sanu Usman said.

He told the BBC at least 100 men and boys were among more than 160 people rescued in operations on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, the army said it had freed nearly 300 women and children.

The girls abducted from a school in Chibok in April 2014 were not among them.

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Screen grab of BBC Africa Live page

Africa news round-up: 30 April

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Thousands have been killed in northern Nigeria since Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009 to create an Islamic state.

In February, Nigeria’s military, backed by troops from neighbouring countries, launched a major offensive against the Islamist fighters. It has recaptured much of the territory Boko Haram had taken in the previous year.

The Sambisa forest, said to be a huge area surrounding a reserve of the same name in the north-eastern Borno state, is home to their last hideouts, the army says.

The army has released photographs of women and children it says have been rescued.

BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross says some of those shown appear malnourished, even emaciated.

weapons
The army says it recovered these weapons

The effort to flush Boko Haram out of their last major stronghold has not been easy, he says.

The BBC has learnt that near one camp the soldiers were shocked when a group of women opened fire on them.

A community leader who has met many former Boko Haram captives says they are often brainwashed and traumatised.

He told the BBC there is a great need for more psycho-social support to help them reintegrate back into society.

Col Usman told the BBC Hausa service that those rescued are being kept in an undisclosed secure location.

An army statement said those rescued were now being interviewed to ascertain their true identities.

They had been “held captive under very severe and inhuman conditions” it said.

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The eight injured women were in a critical condition, said Col Usman.

One soldier and several Boko Haram field commanders and foot soldiers were killed in the fighting and several armoured vehicles, some with anti-aircraft guns, had been destroyed, the army says

In total 13 camps had been destroyed in Sambisa this week, it added.

It is not clear if those rescued were kidnapped or were taken hostage from villages taken over by the militants.

A local senator says the women and children are likely to have been residents of the north-eastern nature reserve.

“These are farming communities and most of those left behind in villages are the elderly ones, women and girls because the youth and the strong ones normally have to run or otherwise they will be conscripted into the Boko Haram insurgent group,” Ali Ndume told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.

He said the Sambisa forest reserve is vast so it was difficult to know how many people were still living in territory controlled by the Islamist militants.

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