Hundreds of children in the Niger Delta have their lives hanging in the balance: because their families believe they are witches.
In parts of Nigeria, when a family is struck by illness, misfortune, poverty or death it is often the youngest, weakest or most vulnerable child who is singled out as a ‘child witch’.
An accusation of witchcraft is traumatic in itself: but a child accused of witchcraft will be rapidly outcast by their whole community and subjected to a torrent of neglect and brutality that is so vast it is hard to believe and difficult to imagine. What follows this mass-scale abuse is even more terrifying:
Children accused of witchcraft are often subjected to ceremonies of ‘deliverance’: brutal exorcisms designed to 'drive the witch out' of the child.
Exorcisms take on various sinister forms. Some children are starved, Others are beaten with a machete. Some are chained up, restrained and imprisoned for days, weeks, on end. Many are forced to ingest a highly toxic and lethal concoction of acid, human blood, petrol and cleaning fluids.
In all their forms, these brutal ceremonies of deliverance serve only to harm the child; causing organ failure, internal bleeding, disfigurement and all too often, death.
If the child does die, it reinforces the belief they were a witch. If the child lives their choices are dire: stay with the abuser and be subjected to further brutality or flee to the streets, alone, where there is peril and danger at every turn.
Some of these children, are as young as 2 years old.
Safe Child Africa is doing all it can, right now, in the Niger Delta to help children faced with this nightmare. But we need the support of people like you to ensure we can reach more of these children.
We receive no funding or support from either the UK or Nigerian Government and we are entirely dependent on the donations of our generous supporters.
Without our supporters we simply would not be able to deliver the services we do. Please help us to give a future to each and every child accused of witchcraft in the Niger Delta.
If we don’t help these children now, they will never know childhood, they will never know what innocence feels like; they will never be safe.
Updated October 2017