A boy in Nigeria who was abandoned by his family after being accused of witchcraft has been rescued by an aid worker. The two-year-old boy was discovered wandering the streets and relying on food given to him by other people.
According to Anja Ringgren Loven a Danish aid worker, the boy was abandoned by his family eight months ago after suspecting that he was a witch. He was then left to fend on his own in the streets of Uyo, which is located in southern Nigeria, Press TV reported.
When she found him, the boy was naked and had worms. He also required blood transfusion and other medical treatments for his various conditions.
It is not yet clear what made the parents of the boy, who Loven named as Hope, believe that he was a witch. However, as noted by the aid worker, this is a common occurrence in Nigeria and other African countries.
"Thousands of children are being accused of being witches and we've both seen torture of children, dead children and frightened children," Loven posted on her Facebook page.
In most cases, before being abandoned, young children accused of witchcraft beaten and murdered. This mostly happens since torture is actually one of the main methods used by witchdoctors in curing children believed to be possessed by demonic entities.
Experts believe that this phenomenon is greatly rooted in people's religious beliefs. However, in Angola, some parents resort to accusations if they cannot look after their children.
"Once a child is said to be a witch, to be possessed with a certain spiritual spell capable of making that child transform into, like a cat, snake viper... a child could cause all sorts of havoc like killing of people, bringing about disease, misfortune into a family," Sam Ikpe-Itauma of the Child's Rights and Rehabilitation Network told CNN.
According to Ikpe-Itauma, who's involved in rescue operations on abandoned children, poverty is one of the leading causes behind people's extreme superstitious beliefs.
Hope is currently under the care of Loven. She founded the organization African Children's Aid Education and Development Foundation to rescue abandoned children and to promote awareness and fight the harmful and dangerous superstitious beliefs in African communities.