Nigeria: 'war crimes' in fight against Boko Haram

Thousands of women and girls who survived the brutal rule of the Boko Haram armed group have since been further abused by the Nigerian security forces who claim to be rescuing them, said Amnesty International in a new report released May 24. Entitled They Betrayed Us, the report reveals how the Nigerian military and its paramilitary arm, the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), have separated women from their husbands and confined them in remote "satellite camps," where they have been raped, sometimes forced to submit in exchange for food. Amnesty International has collected evidence that thousands of people have starved to death in the camps in Borno state since 2015.

"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," said Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria, calling for an urgent investigation into possible "war crimes." 

As Nigeria's military recovered territory from Boko Haram in 2015, it ordered people living in rural villages to relocate to the satellite camps, in some cases indiscriminately killing those who chose to remain in their homes. Hundreds of thousands were displaced in this campaign. "Now is the time for President [Muhammadu] Buhari to demonstrate his frequently expressed commitment to protect the human rights of displaced people in northeast Nigeria," said Osai Ojigho. "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." (AI)