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Regional News of Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Source: 3 News

We’re hungry – ‘Witches’ cry out from Gnani Camp

Alleged witches living in the Gnani Witches Camp in the Yendi municipality of the Northern Region have revealed they are starving due to lack of food.

They say they wake up each morning with the fear of going through the entire day without meals.

Drawn from different parts of the Region, the alleged witches aged between 25 and 80 years with the majority in their late 50s live in an isolated portion of the Gnani community, about 3 km away from the main community.

Most of them either confessed their involvement in the death of relatives under duress or under ritual influence.

Being breadwinners even in their matrimonial homes, most of them have had their children and grandchildren moved in with them in their new-found homes due to unsafe living conditions in their home communities.

Though they feel safer in their new homes, which are usually round little mud huts, the moving in of family members has made survival difficult for them especially for those with large families.

They heavily depend on proceeds from their peasant farms and sometimes benevolence of non-governmental organizations and individuals who visit the camps once-in-a-while.

Life, they reveal, is very difficult for them during the lean seasons.

A leader of the alleged witches, Abu Mariama, has a family of 12. She is one of the oldest living in the camp.

Though she got intimate with a male resident of the Gnani community with whom she has 12 children, the witch tag bars her from moving into the home of the father of her children.

Her sole source of survival just like others is a less-than-one-plot-land-size farm and gifts from NGOs and individuals.

She laments hunger is killing them at the camp and pleads for means of survival.

“We are hungry. In fact, we will die of hunger if nobody supports us immediately.

“Some of us have big families of about 12 and are too old to do any hard work but when we get support in terms of microfinance, we can start small businesses and farming. We will survive,” old Abu Mariam said as she sobs.

Her plea was directed at the Norwegian Ambassador to Ghana, Gunnar Holm, who had visited the camp as part of his familiarization tour of the Northern Region.

In his response, His Excellency Gunnar Holm assured inmates of plans by the Norwegian government to invest in agriculture through NORFUND to alleviate poverty in the area.

“I have observed that the main occupation here is farming and even our mothers here farm and so we will support in that regard so there can be enough food to eat and be healthy.”

Ambassador Holm also appealed to residents in Gnani, the host community, to respect the rights of the alleged witches.

He said the continuous abuse and stigmatization of the supposed witches can increase poverty since that will cause the people to start life all over again.

“I will plead with you all to collectively frown upon all the ill-treatment and stigmatization shown to the supposed witches, majority of whom are women,” he said.

The Chief of Gnani, Tindana Alhassan Shei, blamed the continuous stigmatization of the alleged witches on illiteracy.

He applauded the Norwegian government for its continuous support through the Management Aid program.

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