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Lake Chad communities accuse troops of eloping with girls, women

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Nigeria Army. AFP PHOTO/SUSAN NJANJI

Communities in the Lake Chad Basin have accused troops deployed to fight insurgency in the area of eloping with girls and young women.

A report titled Perspectives from local communities on stabilisation and building peace in the Lake Chad Basin, and released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) yesterday in Maiduguri noted lack of professionalism on the part of the security forces and alleged misconduct on several instances reportedly resulting in insufficient trust between them and the communities.

The document noted: “In Cameroon, relations between security agencies and communities seemed particularly strained by sexual and gender-based violence perpetrated by members of the forces.

“In Limani, for example, a woman gave birth to a child that was fathered by a soldier, resulting to her being excluded from her home due to the taboos associated with this incident.”

It was also discovered that “other girls and young women in the area have left villages with soldiers without undertaking the traditional or civil marriage process.”

The report added that the communities accused security forces of harassment and extortion at checkpoints and borders.

The UNDP said all these were aggravating community sentiments against the security forces.

The organisation added: “In Chad, residents felt that the breakdown of trust between communities and security agencies has led to the latter not taking credible information on Book Haram.

“The stress of conflict and breakdown of law order was reported to have led to increase in domestic violence and abuse in some communities (particularly in Nwom in Nigeria).”

The report however, noted that despite the mistrust that existed between the communities and the security personnel, there were calls for deployment of more troops and security operatives in the area.

It therefore, called for efforts to sustain well-trained and equipped military and security presence, adding that security operatives must also be made to adhere to a code of conduct.


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