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Boko Haram: Over 410 babies delivered in IDP camps

01/12/2015 20:40

More than 410 babies were born in the space of two months in camps for people displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria, the country's main relief agency has said.

"Over 410 births were recorded between August and September" in the camps in Borno and Adamawa state, said the head of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Muhammad Sani Sidi.

In the same period, there were 187 marriages - 100 in camps in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, and 87 in neighbouring Adamawa, he added in a statement.

Boko Haram's fight to create a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, which began in 2009, has killed at least 17,000 people and made more than 2.6 million others homeless.

Some 10 percent of the 2.0 million or so Nigerians internally displaced by the conflict now live in government-run camps, according to the International Organization for Migration.

In recent months, the camps have also accommodated hundreds of women and children kidnapped by the insurgents and rescued by the military during its counter-offensive.

A statement from Borno state governor Kashim Shettima in May said the rebels "deliberately rape women with the intention of getting them pregnant so they would give birth to future insurgents".

The same month, a retired midwife helping at the Malkohi camp outside the Adamawa state capital, Yola, told AFP 10 to 15 women were in the early to mid-stages of pregnancy.

Pregnancy tests were also given as part of medical screening for women among the 275 people rescued from Boko Haram's Sambisa Forest stronghold earlier that month.

NEMA's Sidi, however, made no reference as to whether the births in September and October were from women kidnapped by Boko Haram and forced into marriage with Islamist fighters.

The agency's spokesman, Manzo Ezekiel, also declined to comment, saying how the women became pregnant was not their focus. "We just help them deliver," he told AFP by telephone from Maiduguri.

"The period of time these people were displaced is not more than one year. You can still assume the husbands were responsible for the pregnancy," he added.

No other figures were available on births in the camps, he said.

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