286 empowered, reintegrated from ‘witch’ camps in N/R
Nearly 300 residents of selected witch camps across the Northern region have been reintegrated into the communities having benefited from economic empowerment programme organized by the Presbyterian Church of Ghana.
The training programme which was accompanied with start-up capital was aimed at ensuring the beneficiaries engage in businesses that would prevent the reliance on their families for aid saw the reintegration to the places of choice while others taken back to their families.
The exercise organised by the Presbyterian Church under its project “Let’s go Home” with support from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and Actionaid Ghana has also developed a road map towards the reintegration and closure of all the alleged witch camps in the region.
The region currently has five camps being Gambaga with 72 residents; Ngani, 182; Kpantinga,41; Nabuli,33; while that of the Kukuo also has 86 residents.
These were disclosed at a press conference organised by a Committee facilitating the reintegration of residents camped at isolated places in the Northern Region with support from ActionAid-Ghana.
The committee established and sponsored by Action Aid to oversee the reintegration of the alleged witches is composed of Action Aid Ghana and its partners, Civil Society Organizations, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Domestic Violence Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU), traditional authorities and the Clergy.
Speaking at the press briefing, the Chairman of the committee Dr. Alhusein Zakaria revealed that the reintegration of the alleged witches and wizards is difficult due to high stigmatization among the public towards the residents.
According to him, the deeply rooted belief in witchcraft in the Northern Region is causing public resistance to the reintegration process.
He advocated the protection of their rights as well as training the youth to serve as change Ambassadors against the discrimination and stigmatization of the ostracized men and women.
“The increase awareness and support of the public on the economic, social, health and educational consequences of the phenomena on the lives of accused persons and their dependents would encourage family and society to treat the alleged fairly”
Dr. Zakaria also cited funding constraints as the main challenge hindering the implementation of the reintegration process fashioned out by ActionAid Ghana and its development partners.
He reiterated the commitment of the committee to promote the reintegration of 45 percent alleged witches and wizards at the various camps by 2021 to ensure total closure of the camps.
He appealed to government, the donor community and development partners to provide them with clean drinking water, food, electricity, medical care, lavatories, economic livelihoods and other social amenities needed to improve their welfare.
He said the Committee will strengthen its collaboration with the mass media to deepen awareness creation on the deplorable conditions of the alleged witches and wizards.
The Northern Regional Coordinator for the Domestic Violent and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) DSP Emmanuel Holortu said the laws of the country forbids the accusation of persons without any fact or evidence.
According to him most of the theses people are accused wrongly by some religious leaders which are not fair.
The Programmes Manager of Actioaid, Madam Esther Boateng said the formation of the committee was to advocate for the protection of rights of alleged witches and wizard in the Northern region by 2021.
“Lack of basic social amenities such as portable drinking water, food, electricity, economic livelihoods, medical care, quality education, places of convenience have been a challenged o the less endowed persons hence the intervention of the organisation to salvage the citizens from their plights” she stated.