More Children Rescued From Forced Labour

Posted: 
02/13/06

Thirteen more children were rescued last week from forced labour at
a fishing community near Yeji on the northern shores of Ghana's
Lake Volta by IOM.

The children, rescued in collaboration with the Ghanaian
non-governmental organization (NGO) Friends for Human Development
(FHD), were taken to a Department of Social Welfare Rehabilitation
centre in the capital, Accra, on 11 February where they will spend
the next two and a half months. Here, they will receive
comprehensive medical and psychosocial assistance from IOM staff
and other partners such as the government and local NGOs. If their
rehabilitation goes well, the children will be reunited with their
parents or guardians in April.

The 13 children, who were rescued from eight fishermen in
Adakrom, were part of a larger group of 55 children registered by
FHD under the supervision of IOM.

Prior to being taken to the rehabilitation centre, the children,
who had all been sold by impoverished parents for up to $US100,
were kept at a FHD transit camp at Atebubu close to Yeji where they
received counselling and final screening.

The youngest child to be rescued was six years of age, the
oldest was 15, with the majority of them never having been to
school.

Their working hours casting or retrieving caught fishing nets
were long with most of the children beginning their day at 5 am.
Depending on the availability of food, they ate between once or
twice a day. Malnourished, the children also reported having chest
pains to IOM. One boy had been trafficked three times to different
fishermen before being rescued.

"It was extremely hard leaving the other 42 children behind.
They were crying as we left with the group of 13. But we couldn't
use force to release them. We expect that through negotiation, we
will be able to rescue all the children in batches by mid-March,"
said IOM's Eric Peasah in Ghana. "We hope that when a new human
trafficking law in Ghana is enforced, it will be easier to rescue
these children."

When all 55 children are rescued, it will bring the number of
children freed and reunited with their families to 592.

In order to rescue children from their exploiters, IOM enlists
the critical support of traditional elders, particularly that of
the paramount Chief of Yeji, and the Pru District Assembly, as they
have great influence on the fishermen.

In return, the fishermen receive training and micro-credits to
help them improve their fishing techniques or engage in other
income-generating activities.

All rescued children are enrolled in school or into vocational
training programmes soon after being reunited with their families.
The 537 children released beforehand, are currently receiving
reintegration assistance from IOM such as school supplies,
psychosocial counselling, medical screening and health care. The
parents or guardians of the rescued children also receive income
generation support from IOM in order to prevent the children being
re-trafficked.

This IOM programme is funded by the US State Department Bureau
of Population Refugees and Migration.

For further information, please contact:

Eric Peasah

IOM Accra

Tel: +233-20-8126696 / +233-24-2170827

Email: "mailto:epeasah@iom.int" target="_blank" title=
"">epeasah@iom.int