The war against child trafficking
Surveys conducted by IPEC/ILO/ Ministry of Labor in West Africa countries on the worst forms of child labor and trafficking reveal that Burkina Faso is both a source and destination country for child trafficking.
The inadequacy of the educational system and poverty are root causes of child trafficking. Children are trafficked to work to augment the incomes of their families, or because their families are too poor to support them. According to ILO/IPEC studies in West Africa in 1999, 51.7 % of Burkina Faso children under 14 were subjected to the worst forms of child labor, ranking just behind Mali, with 52%. These children work in appalling conditions. Four areas were identified:
The surveys proved to what extent child trafficking remains a major hindrance to the realization of children’s rights in Burkina Faso. One key solution proposed was that the law of compulsory education of children under 16 should be upheld.
One of the difficulties in handling child trafficking is the lack of data. UNICEF and the government of Burkina Faso undertook a test project for the collection of data using an “action-research” approach that has provided precious information about child trafficking. The information gathered validated the multidisciplinary strategy already being tested.
Action-research activity carried out in five regions (in 2001-2002) enhanced the visibility of child trafficking, and led to a better understanding of its characteristics. The information gathered through the cases intercepted showed:
- 70% of trafficking was internal, and of that number, about 65% were girls being sent to work in Ouagadougou and the agricultural regions of western Burkina Faso
- 26% of children were being trafficked externally, and of that number, 77% were boys being sent to work in Cote d’Ivoire
- 77.1% of children being trafficked had been living with their parents before they left. Most of these children were from polygamous families with an average of six children per family.
Since the passage on May 23 2003 of the law defining and repressing child trafficking by the National Assembly, significant progress has been made.
- Trafficking victims are received and accommodated in temporary shelters where they are fed and helped to rejoin their families, inside or outside of Burkina Faso.
- On 25 June 2004, a cooperation agreement was signed between the governments of Mali and Burkina Faso on the control of child trafficking.
- A multilateral agreement was signed by nine West African countries on the control of child trafficking.
With UNICEF’s support in 2005, information and sensitization campaigns reached more than 2 million people. Moreover, 555 children victims of trafficking (143 girls and 412 boys) were intercepted and cared for in shelters. Of these, 124 non-Burkina children were repatriated to their various countries.
With help from UNICEF, the authorities dismantled five trafficking networks while 13 child trafficking dealers were arrested.
At the same time, 196 formerly trafficked children were sent to back to school, including those who were placed in apprenticeship programmes. Child trafficking control was also aided by the setting up in some provinces of new transit centers and centers designed to monitor trafficking activities.