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General News of Monday, 25 February 2008

Source: GNA

Catholic Church calls for abolition of "witches camps"

Yendi (NR), Feb. 25, GNA- A call has been made for the abolition of the "witches camps" and attempts made to integrate the inmates into mainstream society to enable them to live dignified lives. The Tamale Ecclesiastical Province Partnership Conference (TEPPCON) of the Catholic Church and its sister Muenster Diocese of Germany made the call, saying that the practice of creating witches camps in various part of the country for people accused of witchcraft was an abuse of human rights and an obstacle to national development. The group made the call when they visited the Gnani witches camp in the Yendi District on Sunday as part of its three-week tour of Northern Ghana.

Speaking on behalf of the 34-member German delegation, Professor Klaus Mular, the leader, explained that the practice was outmoded and should be changed to befit the modern world.

Professor Mular said most of such camps had been totally left out of the developmental map of the nation and therefore lacked basic amenities like water, electricity and schools.

The group, whose membership was mainly made up of students of the Muenster University in Germany, also donated three bags of rice and 3 bales of used clothing worth GHC 450 to the inmates.

The chief of the Camp, Iwuliin Bainanba thanked the group for the gesture and pledged to distribute the items equitably to the 810 inmates.

He said the Catholic Church had always been of immense support to them, providing them with water and other essentials of life to make life quiet bearable.

He, however, pleaded with the German delegation to convey the plight of the inmates to other organisations in Germany for possible assistance.

Iwuliin Bainanba expressed concern that the camp had no access to drinking water, health facilities and school for the children who were often "exiled" to the camp with their accused parents.

He said anytime the inmates joined the inhabitants of the nearby villages to access their facilities such as clinic, school, market and other social amenities, they were chased away on the basis that they were witches and wizards who should be kept away from society. The chief appealed to the government to remember them when the "national cake" was being shared "just as we are remembered during elections".

Ms. Agnes Gandaa, Co-ordinator of TEPPCON, said the partnership was established between the Catholic Church in Muenster University and the Catholic Church in Northern Ghana 25 years ago.

She explained that the partnership aimed at initiating and implementing development projects in the three northern regions. The Co-ordinator mentioned the provision of stationery and playing materials, building of early childhood development centres, awarding of scholarships to brilliant but needy children as some of the projects TEPPCON

had undertaken in the Wa Catholic Diocese of the Upper West Region. She also mentioned that TEPPCON had provided a one-unit classroom block, school furniture and wells to the Navrongo Diocese. 25 Feb. 08

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