Niger: Amnesty International warns against growing violence

A report by Amnesty International listed series of abuses committed from January 1 to July 29, 2021 in southwestern Niger.In…

A report by Amnesty International listed series of abuses committed from January 1 to July 29, 2021 in southwestern Niger.In a report published on Monday and seen by APA, the human rights NGO revealed that more and more children are being killed or targeted for recruitment by armed groups operating on Niger’s borders with Mali and Burkina Faso.


“In 2021, armed groups killed more than 60 children in the Nigerien part of the Tri-border area. The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS), mainly present on the border with Mali, appears to be responsible for most of the large-scale killings,” AI said.


In 2020, 397 civilians died as a result of insecurity. In Tillabéri, the situation “has worsened significantly since early 2021,” the NGO said. The 64-page report, entitled “I have nothing left but myself. The growing impact of the conflict on children in the Tillabéri region,” illustrates the “devastating consequences” on children of the fighting in this Sahelian country involving EIGS and the al-Qa’ida-affiliated Islam and Muslim Support Group (GSIM)


The NGO noted that both armed movements have committed “war crimes” and other human rights abuses including killings of civilians and attacks on schools.


“In the Tillabéri region, an entire generation is growing up surrounded by death and destruction. Armed groups have repeatedly attacked schools and food supplies and are targeting children for recruitment,” said Matt Wells, Deputy Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International.


“The Nigerien state and its international partners must take urgent steps to monitor and prevent abuses and to protect the human rights of all those affected by this deadly conflict, especially children,” he said.


In the course of its investigation, Amnesty said it had interviewed 119 people, including 22 children, three young adults aged 18 to 20, and 36 relatives or other people affected by the conflict.


It found that “the Nigerien authorities are not protecting civilians.” Witnesses said that despite their emergency calls, Niger’s Defence and Security Forces (FDS) often arrived long after the killings and looting had stopped, Amnesty reported, describing the situation in Niger as “a non-international armed conflict, given the intensity of the violence and the degree of organisation of the EIGS and GSIM.”


In addition, Amnesty said that many children who have witnessed deadly attacks in their villages are suffering from trauma. In some areas, women and girls are no longer allowed to carry out activities outside the home and are at risk of abduction or forced marriage to fighters, the human rights NGO added.


In 2012, the conflict in Mali spread to two neighbouring countries: Burkina and Niger. Armed groups vie for control of border areas and frequently clash with the Nigerien army as well as forces from other countries, including Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and France.


It is estimated that a total of 13.2 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2021, and the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is 1.9 million.


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