Benue Bloodbath: 2,600 lives lost in year of terror, Amnesty International demands accountability

Amnesty International has reported that at least 2,600 individuals, primarily women and children, have been killed in attacks on 50 communities in Benue State between January 2023 and February 2024.

This revelation was made by Barbara Magaji, Amnesty International’s Programme Director, during a photo exhibition and press conference on Wednesday.

Magaji emphasized that 18 out of the 23 local government areas in Benue are under constant threat from armed attackers.

“These attacks are significantly affecting food security and livelihoods because the affected communities are farmers and displacement makes them unable to carry out any farming activity,” Magaji said.

She added that the displacement has severely impacted the right to livelihoods and has deprived thousands of children of education and development opportunities.

Magaji highlighted that, as of March 2023, a total of 489,245 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were living in camps and host communities.

Additionally, the state’s Ministry of Education and the Teaching Service Board reported that at least 55 schools had been destroyed or closed due to insecurity, leaving hundreds of children out of school.

She urged Nigerian authorities to take immediate action to end the attacks, investigate the security lapses, and ensure justice for the victims.

“Nigerian authorities must ensure that suspected perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice through fair trials,” Magaji stated.

She also called for adequate humanitarian support for the displaced and the continuation of children’s education.

In a show of support, Lt Col. R.B. Kefas, Commanding Officer of the 72 Special Forces Battalion, represented by Lt Danjuma Abba, noted that criminality had been curtailed in crisis-prone areas and promised that efforts to maintain security would be sustained.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Steve Yabanet, represented by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Okon Asuquo, assured that the police were working tirelessly to reduce criminality in the state to the barest minimum.

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