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Stars on shoulders, blood on hands: Nigerian army accused of 8,000 murders

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Abuja: Human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Wednesday denounced the death of 8,000 people at the hands of the Nigerian army during the struggle with Boko Haram in the north of the country, calling the murders war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

In a report entitled “Stars on their Shoulders, Blood on their Hands: War Crimes Committed by the Nigerian Military,” released on Wednesday here, Amnesty collected testimonies and case-files documenting the use of torture, extrajudicial executions and arbitrary detention of thousands of young people and children in the chaos following Boko Haram.

After the attacks of Boko Haram in the northeast stronghold of the terrorists, the army often launched “mop-up”, during which most of the killing took place.

“The highest levels of Nigeria’s military command, including the chief of army staff and chief of defence staff, were regularly informed of operations conducted in northeast Nigeria,” the report claimed.

The most serious case documented by the NGO took place on March 14, 2014 when the army killed more than 640 detainees who had fled the Giwa barracks after a terrorist attack.

An army veteran testified to orders he had received: “Soldiers go to the nearest place and kill all the youths. People killed may be innocent and not armed,” he told Amnesty.

According to the report, since 2009 at least 20,000 young people were arrested including children as young as nine years, and in most cases the arrests were arbitrary, since “almost none of those detained have been brought to court”.

The conditions in which the detainees were held were also discussed in the report: “Sometimes we drank people’s urine, but even the urine you at times could not get,” a former detainee told Amnesty.

“Hundreds have been killed in detention either (by soldiers) shooting them or by suffocation,” an official told the NGO.

The organisation called for an investigation to hold those responsible accountable, whether soldiers, mid-level or senior officers in the army.

“We call on newly-elected President Buhari to end the culture of impunity that has blighted Nigeria and for the African Union and international community to encourage and support these efforts.” (IANS)

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Cameroon: Cholera Outbreak Claims a Dozen Lives

The disease has continued to spread since four cases of cholera were recorded in the northern Cameroon town of Mayo Oulo that borders Nigeria on May 18. He says many people, especially children, have been dying both in and out of hospitals.

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many people continue to defecate in the open air or in streams and river beds where both humans and animals go to find water to drink thereby facilitating the spread of cholera.VOA

A cholera outbreak in Cameroon has claimed at least a dozen lives. Hundreds of people have been rushed to several hospitals in the central African state. It is feared some of the cases were imported from Nigeria and may contaminate refugees fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency.

Arabo Saidou, the highest government official in charge of health in Cameroon’s north region says the first cases of cholera were reported along Cameroon’s border with Nigeria two months ago.

He says the disease has continued to spread since four cases of cholera were recorded in the northern Cameroon town of Mayo Oulo that borders Nigeria on May 18. He says many people, especially children, have been dying both in and out of hospitals.

In May, the Word Health Organization reported that Nigeria’s Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states had been experiencing recurrent cholera outbreaks since February, with a total of 1,664 suspected cases and 31 deaths.

Many people from the three Nigerian states travel to Cameroon for business. At least a hundred thousand are in Cameroon as refugees fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency, with over 90,000 at the Minawao refugee camp.

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Cameroon’s ministry of health indicated that the disease quickly spread to Yaounde and Douala, major cities in the central African state. VOA

Issac Bayoro, a Cameroonian epidemiologist working in the Mokolo administrative area where the Minawao refugee camp is located says they are educating refugees to respect hygiene norms and are also screening Nigerians coming to the camp in a bid to protect not only the refugees but their host communities.

He says many people continue to defecate in the open air or in streams and river beds where both humans and animals go to find water to drink thereby facilitating the spread of cholera. He says hygiene is not respected as many people do not wash their hands with soap as advised. He says people should stop trusting the belief that an African is naturally vaccinated and can not die of dirt.

Cameroon’s ministry of health indicated that the disease quickly spread to Yaounde and Douala, major cities in the central African state. The case reported in Yaounde was of a teenager who travelled to Yaounde from northern Cameroon with his mother. He latter died in a hospital according to the government.

Thomas Tawe, a university student and resident of Yaounde says he fears cholera may spread rapidly in the city because just 30 percent of the population has access to good drinking water.

Also Read-Fistula Epidemic In Nigeria, Cultural Practices To Blame

“In the city of Yaounde only those who can pay can have water. When you go into the quarters (neighbourhoods) you see that people are carrying water from unhygienic sources,” said Tawe. “If the water is contaminated, automatically we will be contaminated.” (VOA)

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