ANKARA (AA) - Older people have suffered immensely in the ongoing conflict in northeastern Nigeria, with many “starved or slaughtered in their homes or left to languish and die in squalid, unlawful military detention,” a global rights group said on Tuesday.
A new report by Amnesty International shows that both Boko Haram and the Nigerian military “have committed atrocities against older women and men, with nobody held to account,” the group said in a statement.
The 67-page report – titled My Heart is in Pain: Older People’s Experiences of Conflict, Displacement, and Detention in Northeast Nigeria – also highlights how “displaced older people are consistently overlooked by the humanitarian response.”
“When Boko Haram has invaded towns and villages, older men and women have often been among the last to flee, leaving them particularly exposed to the armed group’s brutality and repression,” said Joanne Mariner, the director of crisis response at Amnesty International.
“This has included torture, being forced to witness killings and abductions of their children, as well as looting resulting in extreme food insecurity.”
She said Nigeria’s military has “repeatedly shot older people to death in their own homes during raids on villages in Boko Haram-controlled areas.”
“Thousands of older people have been denied dignity in hellish conditions in military detention, with many hundreds of them dying in squalor. These, too, amount to war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity,” Mariner added.
According to estimates by humanitarian agencies, older people account for around 150,000 of the 2.1 million people displaced by conflict in Nigeria’s northeast, said the statement.
The Amnesty International report calls for inclusion of older people in the “design and implementation” of humanitarian programs aimed at helping the displaced.
“All too often, older people have been ignored in aid provision in northeastern Nigeria. Inclusion means respecting the rights of people with different needs and risks, including those associated with aging. It is time to stop treating older people as an afterthought,” said Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria.