State authorities in Adamawa and Borno have rejected reports that pregnant women and girls rescued from Sambisa forest and staying in various camps for displaced persons are being pressured to undergo abortions.
These include females raped by Boko Haram insurgents or sexually assaulted by others while fleeing to safety after they were displaced from their homes. The Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, who is on a working visit to Nigeria, told pressmen that though many girls and women have been sexually violated, the fund was working with the federal government to ensure that they get the desired assistance to carry their babies to term.
“We take the view that if they are pregnant, we will ensure we provide them services to help them carry the pregnancy safely,” he said.
The permanent secretary of Adamawa State Emergency Agency, Haruna Haman, said camps under the agency’s care have seen no “case of unwanted pregnancy or forced abortions.”
At a conference called with health reporters and the United Nations Population Fund, Haman said there were women who came to camps already pregnant and needed to be helped until delivery. “They come frightened, timid, reserved, remote. They will not open up to you until you become close to them, counsel them before handing them over to welfare services,” he said of younger children.
Some 12 locations in Adamawa, including places of worship, have been designated camps for about 29,134 displaced people. Others displaced and living outside camps in host communities number up to 300,000, said Haman.
But people categorised as displaced in Borno have risen to 45,000 from two weeks ago across 21 camps. Borno State Health Commissioner Dr Salma Kolo said the state was “still receiving a lot of internally displaced persons.”
More than 6,000 of them drifted into camps last week, 80% of them children and women. “A lot [of women] are pregnant and having babies. We are trying to identify women and girls abused by Boko Haram, but they are not willing to open up because of stigma,” Kolo said.