While most children their age are either at school or playing with their friends, trafficked children who work in the fishing industry in Ghana are forced to work under the searing heat of the sun. Bonded into labour due to poverty, these children (some as young as 4 years old) spend their days on Lake Volta – paddling boats, collecting fish, diving under water to disentangle nets, or working as domestic helpers in fishermen's homes. They are not given the opportunity to go to school and are often ill-treated and malnourished.
Since 2002, IOM Ghana and its partner NGOs and Government agencies have been working to rescue trafficked children from the fishing communities of Yeji, in the Brong-Ahafo Region and Kete-Krachi and Kpando in the Volta Region of Ghana. Through the programme, IOM Ghana has rescued over 700 children who were subjected to exploitative labour. After their rescue, children participate in rehabilitation exercises and are reintegrated into their communities of origin.
Community outreach programmes are organized to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable communities to effectively prevent child trafficking as well as identify, protect, and assist victims of trafficking. IOM organizes community outreach activities in both sending and receiving communities in the Volta, Central, Greater Accra and Brong-Ahafo Regions of Ghana. These activities focus on human trafficking as a punishable crime, the dangers involved in trafficking children, and childrens’ rights as outlined in international and national legislations.
The rescue and release of trafficked children entails much more than just freeing them from forced and exploitative labour. To rescue a child is a delicate and sensitive matter. Before the children are rescued and released from bondage, the entire fishing community is sensitized and educated about child trafficking and what harm it causes to the children. Only then are negotiations made with the fishermen for the child's release.
Most trafficked children are highly traumatized by their ordeals. After the children have been rescued, they are hosted at a secure and child-friendly rehabilitation centre where they spend three months going through medical assessments and treatment in addition to psychosocial therapy and basic education. This important stage enables the child to move from healing towards full recovery.
The IOM team also conducts in-depth interviews and social investigations with every child to ascertain what forms of abuse he or she suffered while working for fishermen. This enables the clinical psychologist and social worker to appropriately design rehabilitation interventions (casework or group work) for us towards their recovery. The children are also prepared for enrolment in school or an apprenticeship, reunification with parents/guardians and are provided with school supplies and uniforms.
After undergoing rehabilitation, children are reunited with their families. The main goal of returning the children back to their parents/guardians is to fulfill the fundamental right of a child to grow up in a family environment. Before reuniting the children with their caretakers, however, the team traces their parents and develops case files on them through direct interaction and observation of the general environment over a few months to ensure they are suitable. Children are then reunited with parents/guardians who have been deemed capable of looking after them in a responsible manner. When suitable parents are not located, alternative guardians are sought.
The primary purpose of reintegration is to nurture and support the child's development in a secure and comfortable environment that is conducive to motivating the child to flourish as a student or apprentice and suitable to fostering the child's growth into an adult. As part of their reintegration process, the children are placed in schools or apprenticeship and provided with the required tools and materials. Their progress in the family environment, school and apprenticeship is monitored regularly over a period of 2.5 years. In addition, community watchdog committees and surveillance teams are formed to help prevent re-trafficking of children. Parents of returned children are also given livelihood assistance and training, so they can better support the child's needs.
IOM further provides trainings to local and national government officials to ensure awareness of national and international human trafficking legislation and to encourage the prosecution of trafficking offenders. It has assisted in the drafting of the 2005 Human Trafficking Act (694) and provided inputs to the ECOWAS regional protection and assistance policy.
- How you can help
This is how you can help a trafficked child as an individual or corporate donor:
How Your Donation Helps
This US$ Amount
Will Pay For
1 day of food, lodging and other vital expenses for 1 child for 1 day in initial rehabilitation (approx. 3.5 months)
1 month of basic needs for one rescued child
Uniform and school supplies for 1 child per school term
3 months of basic needs for one rescued child
Micro-business assistance to a parent/guardian to set up a small-scale business
Registration of 20 children with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)
1 year of sponsorship for one child
Rescue, rehabilitation and reunification for one child
2.5 years of sponsorship of one child
Rescue, rehabilitation, reunification and reintegration of one child for 2.5 years
So far, this is what your donations have enabled us achieve:
732 trafficked children have been rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated into their respective communities.
All 732 children have been extensively monitored and provided with targeted follow-up assistance based on their individual needs.
Over 690 children have been enrolled in school; 20 children have graduated to high schools and 10 from various apprenticeships are now supporting themselves.
191 reintegrated children are currently benefiting from being sponsored by individual private donors.
130 communities and 48,533 community members have been educated and sensitized on trafficking in persons, with particular emphasis on child trafficking, within sending and receiving communities.
Mentoring and tutoring programmes have been established in major sending communities to assist the children to perform better in school.
468 parents/guardians of trafficked children benefited from micro-business assistance.
50 social workers have been trained on the rehabilitation of child and adult victims of trafficking in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare.
150 government officials from the Police, Immigration, Naval and Judicial Services have received technical assistance in terms of capacity-building on human trafficking issues.
Inter-agency support network has been established and the government's institutional framework enhanced in order to coordinate trafficking issues and to provide continuous protection and support to victims of trafficking in Ghana.
IOM was nominated and short-listed for the 2011 Hilton Humanitarian Prize and was a 2012 recipient of the Dream Project Foundation – “Freedom to Walk” fundraiser to fight trafficking worldwide.
Chief of Mission
Daniel Sam & Doris Yiboe
House # 10, Plot # 48
P.O. Box 5222