Posted by: africanpressorganization | 1 March 2011

Rescue of Trafficked Ghanaian Children To End Due to Lack of Funding

 


 

 

 

Rescue of Trafficked Ghanaian Children To End Due to Lack of Funding

 

 

ACCRA, Ghana, March 1, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Press Briefing Note

Many thousands of Ghanaian child victims of trafficking will continue to work in dangerous, exploitative conditions with little chance of escape as years of efforts to rescue them come to an end.

A rescue mission of a group of about 20 Ghanaian children trafficked to work among fishing communities along Lake Volta due to begin today will be the last to be carried out by IOM unless significant new funds are found.

The children, both boys and girls, are currently in Kpando district of the Volta region of Ghana.

Since 2003, IOM has rescued another 711 children in a complex and lengthy first-step effort that involves lengthy negotiations with fishermen to let the children go.

The children, who were knowingly or unknowingly trafficked by middle men or parents to work in fishing communities in the belief that they would be fed, educated and taught a useful trade, were forced to work extremely long hours doing heavy and dangerous work because “masters” wouldn’t or couldn’t afford to pay adults to do the jobs.

This included diving deep into the waters of Lake Volta to retrieve fishing nets that had got caught, a job that has cost the lives of some children. The children were also severely under-fed, in poor medical condition and often abused physically and verbally.

Trafficked at young ages and for some for many years, their experiences have left an indelible mental and physical mark on the children. Upon rescue, they showed very high levels of malnutrition, stunted growth, malaria and worm infections that needed urgent treatment.  

As a result, IOM and government partners have provided extensive rehabilitation and medical assistance to the children in the immediate aftermath of the rescue.

Months of rehabilitation and medical assistance including psychosocial counselling are followed by the reunification of the children with parents or extended families. The children are supported to attend school or take on apprenticeships as well as given follow-up medical care as they continue to suffer physically from their trafficking experiences.

Parents are also provided with assistance that allows them to set up small businesses that could support their families and so lessen the chances of re-trafficking.

IOM has also reached out to traditional chiefs, communities where trafficked children come from and local partners to sensitize them to the dangers and consequences of trafficking children and to inform them on various legislations that would affect them, including Ghana’s 2005 Human Trafficking Act.

Since 2002, the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) has funded IOM’s programme. However, in recent years as funding has declined, IOM has been supported by private donations as well, including those raised by enterprising children in the US such as the non-profit organization One is Greater Than None. Their support has helped sponsor the rescue and rehabilitation of 24 individual children since 2007.

Currently, almost 650 of the 711 rescued children over the past eight years continue to attend school or engage in apprenticeships with the help of private sponsors. Another 20 are in senior high schools with 6 rescued children having ended their apprenticeships and now working.

“The US government has been extremely supportive over the years, having donated just over US$1.5 million to help IOM in its work to change the lives of these children. However, with that funding now ending, we have to find other sources. If we don’t, thousands of children will continue their lives of forced labour and face a heartbreaking future,” says Dyane Epstein, IOM Chief of Mission in Accra.

It will also mean that the group being rescued this week will not be able to have the amount of reintegration assistance they need, exposing them to a high risk of re-trafficking.  IOM is, therefore, appealing for funds from other donors so that the Organization can continue to provide this critical support to trafficked children from September, when current funding runs out.

SOURCE 

International Office of Migration (IOM)


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