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LEAP Programme Camped 'witches' cry for government's intervention

Caregivers of the alleged witches at Kukuo have raised alarm over the suspension of cash transfer to the inmates for some time now, since it remains the major source of livelihood for the inmates.

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A total of 190 alleged Witches including their caretakers at the Kukuo Witches camp have expressed displeasure about the suspension of cash transfer to them by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection under the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme.

Former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, proposed the registration of all alleged witches in the Northern Region as beneficiaries of the LEAP programme as it is meant to cater for the poor.

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However, Executive Director of Women and Child Rights advocacy Non-Governmental Organization called Songtaba, Hajia Lamnatu Adam, revealed that not all inmates of the five alleged witches’ camps in the Northern Region are benefiting from the LEAP programme.

At a workshop in Tamale christened “Working with alleged witches,” the Nanumba South District Director of the Department of Social Welfare, Abdul Rashid Ziblim, disclosed that majority of the beneficiaries particularly those at the Kukuo alleged witches camp are yet to receive their grants.

According to Citi FM, Mr. Abdul Rashid Ziblim described the situation as worrisome due to the fact that the LEAP programme remains a major source of livelihood for the beneficiaries.

He therefore appealed to the current Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister, Otiko Afisa Djaba, to address the problem.

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“If you reintegrate someone wherever he or she finds himself or herself, he or she can still have access to the funds because it on Ezwich.

“Reintegrating someone and even denying him or her this cash is even bringing more pressure and creating more vulnerability in the system,” Mr. Abdul Rashid Ziblim said.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of Songtaba, Hajia Lamnatu Adam said the workshop had sought to mobilize and build the confidence of the alleged witches and to engage stakeholders on their plight so as to pave way for their reintegration and closure of the camps.

“The aim is to empower these women to live lives of dignity to enjoy their basic rights and participation in decision making in a violence free environment.

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“The workshop is to increase awareness of the women on their rights, advocate for district assemblies’ budget to be responsive to the social needs of the camps. Also, it is to build the confidence of the regional network of the alleged witches to adequately engage government and traditional authority.”

She however stated that there is still a long way to go in attempts to disband and reintegrate the alleged witches.

“There is still a mixed feeling about the reintegration of alleged witches. Belief in superstition is high, hence the inability of women to report abuse and violation of their rights to the appropriate authorities.”

“The reintegration process is cumbersome, and requires a lot of travelling, and cost no clear law or provision specifically to deal with witchcraft allegations against women who can’t mobilize the items for pacification of the gods.”

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