Nigeria: Children 'treated like livestock' in camps for people fleeing Boko Haram

Over three million people have been displaced in Nigeria as a result of ongoing attacks by militant group Boko HaramReuters

"Grievous" allegations of rape and child trafficking in Nigerian camps for people displaced as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency have led to the launch of a new abuse investigation.

According to the BBC, investigators from the National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) will visit every camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP) in Nigeria, where hundreds of thousands of people are seeking refuge.

A report into allegations of abuse was recently published by Nigeria's International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

The author, journalist Charles Dickson, quotes sources as saying a significant number of young girls are "either raped in the camp[s] or sold by those that should be protecting them".

"Hundreds of girls are now being trafficked from some of the IDP camps in the north east set up to cater for people displaced by the insurgency, especially unregistered ones," Dickson said. A member of staff at an international donor agency apparently told him that "trafficking is rife".

"We had a case in Gombe where a group of persons came from the South, Lagos or Ibadan, we can't be so sure, paid some people and took away children from the camp," the source said.

"We went to deliver relief items in this particular IDP Camp and took a census so that we could come back the following day, which we did, only to realise that over a dozen of them were missing. They were mostly young children between the ages of 5 and 15. Upon investigation we discovered that some 'lords' in the camp were in partnership with the Lagos people to sell the kids."

This story was just one of many researchers heard. Dickson accused some of those running unregistered camps of treating them like a "livestock market".

"It is a triangular manifestation of evil that comprises some heartless displaced persons, unscrupulous camp officials and child traffickers," he said.

The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chidi Odinkalu, admitted receiving reports of abuses in the IDP camps, including rape and child trafficking.

Ezikial Manzo, a spokesperson for Nema, told the BBC that the allegations were "very grievous" and that a full investigation would be undertaken.

Over three million people are believed to have been displaced by Boko Haram, with about half of those having fled Nigeria to neighbouring countries.

The terrorist group has garnered support through its determination to eradicate Nigerian democracy and replace it with an Islamic state guided by sharia law. The latest statistics suggest that violence associated with the organisation resulted in the deaths of more than 6,000 civilians in 2014. Its deadliest attack to date occurred in January 2015, when up to 2,000 people were killed in Baga, Borno state.

The head of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, last week announced that national elections had been postponed until March 28 – a six-week delay – due to ongoing security concerns.