Trafficking of children in West and Central Africa is on the rise and demands a concerted effort from all sectors of society in affected countries to combat it, according to ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child labour.
Recruited and sold into prostitution and forced labour,children aged between 12 and 16 are the main victims of human trafficking across Africa,a new study by the United Nation Children’s Funds (UNICEF) says
The report is based on the results of operational reviews drawn largely from interviews with children and parents, conducted in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Togo.
Although some cases of trafficking of children within West Africa for commercial sexual exploitation have been reported, these have been far outweighed by the numbers reportedly trafficked across borders for other forms of work, of which recruitment for domestic work appears to be the most important. Other types of labour exploitation include work in plantations, small trade, begging and soliciting.
Several reasons are put forward to explain this phenomenon, in particular the decline throughout the region in the extended family system and the traditional forms of solidarity linked to it. Traffickers usually promise good money and job proposals in order to persuade parents to send their children away. However, after the children arrive at their destination, neither the child nor their parents are paid for the work they do – or at least not as much as they have been promised. Trafficked children who have been interviewed often tell harrowing stories of their journey from their home to their place of employment and many complain of bad working conditions and being deprived of food once they arrive.
Trafficked children can work from 10 to 20 hours a day, carry heavy loads, operate dangerous tools and lack adequate food or drink. Nigeria reports that one out of five trafficked children die of illness or mishaps. Others succumb to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. Traumatized by abominable working conditions, ill-treatment and disease, children lose their human dignity and develop a feeling of being outcasts. This can lead to crime, drug consumption or long term mental disorders, the report found.
Out of 4799 victims detected in 26 sub-saharan African countries,the existence of trafficking in children for labour exploitation is highly recognized in the following counties like, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Togo.