MAROUA, CAMEROON - The rights group Watchlist released a report earlier this month that accused Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria of subjecting boys and girls to forced recruitment, detention, attacks at school, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual violence.
The group - Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict - released the report called Who Will Care for Us? – Grave Violations in Northeastern Nigeria. It’s based on a six-week research mission earlier this year.
Thousands of Nigerians along the northeast border continue to flee attacks by the militant group, which is fighting to set up its own Islamic caliphate in Nigeria.
Refugees have been showing up at the United Nations refugee camp at Minawao, a village in northern Cameroon about 130 kilometers from the border with Nigeria.
United Nations High Commission for Refugees officials said last week that 22,000 people have crossed into northern Cameroon in the past 20 days.
Subjected to violence
Fred Williams of the Cameroon Red Cross said a majority of the refugees have been subjected to torture and other forms of violence.
"We have had cases of rape. We have had cases of assault, for example, children of 9, 10 years old raped. Women abused violently and they become very violent and it is recurrent. It is very, very deplorable,” Williams said.
“First of all, the refugees have lost all of their livelihoods. There is no other means of survival. They now depend on the goodwill of the host communities, perhaps of the host government. It is extremely deplorable,” he added.
Victory Nkirou, a volunteer teacher at the Catholic diocese of Maiduguri, said she fled her residence after suspected members of Boko Haram forcefully took her five children.
"My two daughters and three sons are in the hands of those hoodlums. To add to my woes, they attacked us and destroyed all of our property. [They] let me go,” Nkirou said.
Some Cameroonians who have been living in Nigeria are also returning.
Delphine Nguino who graduated from the University of Maiduguri and settled as a businesswoman in Kukawa, north of Borno state, said she was sexually harassed by suspected members of Boko Haram.
"I am a victim and it is a very bad experience to be raped. It traumatizes somebody. I am a victim and I [would] not like somebody to experience it,” Nguino said.
Violence inside Cameroon
Boko Haram insurgents have also been accused of committing atrocities inside Cameroon.
Mariam Obolingong said when the insurgents captured the Cameroonian border village of Ashigashia a month ago, they assaulted many youths.
Obolingong said the Boko Haram terrorist group has been raping girls and giving money and guns to boys they recruit. She added that those who refuse their proposals risk being murdered.
Yauhaun Haman, 30, told VOA that Boko Haram fighters have been using force to get young people to join them.
Haman said when Boko Haram fighters attack villages and ask the young people to join the terrorist group or be killed, the youth have no choice.
Cameroon Minister of Communication Issa Tchiroma Bakary has condemned such atrocities by suspected Boko Haram fighters.
"It is possible that the Boko Haram terrorist group could be enrolling some compatriots [who are] economically or socially vulnerable. This phenomenon is not widespread in our country. There is no Cameroonian Boko Haram,” Tchiroma said.