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» 24.03.2011 - Ghana con-men sell sand as fertilizer
» 17.07.2008 - Convicted UK teens freed in Ghana
» 13.06.2008 - "Child labour still prevalent in Ghana"
» 28.01.2008 - Ghana shuns labour standard
» 10.01.2008 - Teens sentence deferred again
» 21.11.2007 - UK teens guilty of Ghana drug smuggling
» 14.02.2005 - Next West African cocoa harvest "without slave labour"
» 08.12.2004 - Ghana re-registers birth of refugee children

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Human rights | Society

No money to stop Ghana child trafficking

Child labour is also very common in Ghana's small-scale agriculture

© J Spaull/FAO/afrol News
afrol News, 1 March
- Ongoing work to rescue trafficked Ghanaian children is now to halt "due to lack of funding." The announcement could lead to thousands of children being exposed to slave labour.

The sad new was announced by the Accra office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) today. The IOM has been the key coordinator in rescue operations freeing Ghanaian children from trafficking and slavery-like working conditions.

"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," Eric Peasah from IOM Ghana said in a statement sent to afrol News today.

"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," Mr Peasah added.

The children, both boys and girls, were said to currently being 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" would not or could not afford to pay adults to do the jobs.

According tot he IOM, 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 Ghanaian government partners have provided extensive rehabilitation and medical assistance to the children in the immediat

The use of child labour on Ghanaian and Ivorian cocoa farms is widespread

© Intl Labour Rights Forum
e 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 tried to reach 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 Ghana 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.

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," she adds. IOM was therefore appealing for funds from other donors.

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