It's almost exactly 1 year since Safe Child Africa was able to open the doors of the Emergency Accommodation Centre in Calabar, Cross Rivers State. And if ever there was a case that highlighted just how vital the service has been, it is this report on 3 young siblings who, having experienced the trauma of losing their Mother, were themselves abused, tortured and accused of child witchcraft.
The child protection network and Basic Rights Counsel Initiative, based in Calabar has condemned the torture of three children over allegations of witchcraft.
The children, aged 3, 5 and 13 narrowly escaped death after it was reported they were each tortured and inflicted with severe burns, on a daily basis, after their own Mother died. The children, who were left without parental care (having also previously lost their Father) were taken to live with their Grandmother, where tragically, they were then tortured and abused.
One-to-one interviews with the children, following their rescue and resettlement, named the Grandmother and her partner as the perpetrators of what amounted to a torrent of horrific abuse and violence against all three children, over a sustained period of time.
The siblings, who are now being cared for by the Child Support team at the Emergency Accommodation Centre in Calabar, spoke of being tied up on a daily basis and repeatedly beaten with a machete. The oldest of the children, aged 13, told support workers that her Grandmother held her personally responsible for the death of their Mother. The young girl was also told that the beatings would continue until she and her younger siblings confessed to being witches.
In a statement following the arrest of the Grandmother, James Ibor, Executive Director of BRCI which manages the operation of the Emergency Accommodation facility, said "The kids told me that they accepted the charges of witchcraft due to the pains they were subjected to".
Their Grandmother is currently being held in Police Custody while her partner remains at large.
Since their rescue, the children have each been given specialist support and counselling at the Emergency Accommodation Centre in Calabar. This will continue while long term foster care is arranged. We will bring you updates on this story in future editions of the newsletter.
Can you help?
It costs Safe Child Africa around £25.00 to support a persecuted child to stay in the Emergency Accommodation Centre while we arrange a longer term, more stable alternative. If you would like to support this and other areas of our work in the Niger Delta, please donate here.