This week, Marc Ellison’s BBC News report: ‘Branded and Beaten: the children accused of witchcraft and murder’ broke mainstream media’s 12 year silence on a growing humanitarian problem in Nigeria, with his extensive, harrowing report which delves deep into the history of Nigeria’s Child Witchcraft crisis.
(click this link to read the full report)
Through a number of deeply moving personal accounts, the report unravels the current scale of the situation for those affected and throws light on the escalating challenges facing the Nigerian NGO’s, on the ground. Each one of them, working tirelessly, to help the hundreds of desperate children who are at risk of torture or death, because they have been branded a child witch.
At the forefront of this pioneering and often highly dangerous work is Safe Child Africa’s principal partner in Calabar: Basic Rights Counsel Initiative lead by it’s Chief Executive and Barrister, James Ibor.
Regular readers of our Newsletter - and those who follow us on social media - will be familiar with the tireless work that James Ibor and his team are doing to help children accused of witchcraft. In this BBC report, James talks candidly to Marc Ellison about the obstacles his team face with Nigerian state Police, the state laws and the powerful influence of Nigeria's film industry - Nollywood.
James also shows Marc around the Emergency Accommodation Shelter - which our Safe Child Africa supporters helped to fund - and includes accounts from 3 of the many children, for whom the Emergency Accommodation Shelter has provided a lifeline - in every sense of the word.
Thanks to the generous and committed support of our donors, Safe Child Africa was able to fund the Emergency Accommodation Shelter, referred to in the report, which first opened its doors in 2017. It has since been providing a secure accommodation facility with 24 hour care - for up to 8 children at a time - each one, in abject danger of losing their lives due to accusations of Child Witchcraft.
During the report, Marc also hears how only three quarters of Nigeria’s 36 states have domesticated the 2003 Child Rights Act, which makes it an offence to subject any child to physical or emotional torture. In fact, Akwa Ibom, is the only Nigerian state to have in place, specific provisions concerning the abuse of alleged Child Witches.
This state law, which came into force in 2008, makes Child Witch branding an offence, punishable with a custodial sentence of up to 10 years. However it only became law, because of the tireless and diligent campaigning of Safe Child Africa, which was once again funded by you, our incredible supporters.
While Marc Ellison’s report - together with the imagery and personal accounts that accompany it - may make for disturbing and unsettling viewing, Safe Child Africa applauds the BBC for bringing the subject of Child Witchcraft accusations to the forefront of mainstream media.
We are also extremely proud that with the support of our amazing donors, we have been able to affect such significant change, with the opening of the Emergency Accommodation Shelter in 2017 and the implementation of the 2008 State Law: both significant steps for a small charity like Safe Child Africa.
So we share the report, along with our heartfelt thanks, for everything you have done and continue to do to help us in our mission to create a future free from fear, for innocent children.
As you read the report, please remember Comfort and her siblings remain in the Emergency Accommodation Shelter: persecuted, branded and accused, but thanks to your continued support, safe.
None of us knows for certain, what the future holds for these children.
But while we do hold them, in our heads and in our hearts, we know for certain, that they do at least, have a future.
James Trevett - Chair of Trustees