Stop child trafficking: a top priority in Guinea-Bissau
Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, 20 October 2008 - UNICEF Bissau is technically and financially engaged to fight child trafficking in Guinea Bissau, in coordination with Government and local NGOs.
A study conducted in Senegal in 2003 showed that most of the 120,000 children begging in the street of Dakar (Senegal) were from Guinea Bissau.
To this date, child trafficking continues across the very porous border between Senegal and Guinea Bissau, as the number of children recently intercepted by the Guinea Bissau border police shows: 104 children have been rescued from the traffickers in recent months, while being smuggled across the border.
The local NGO SOS Talibe and border police in the east of the country - the most affected by child traffic - estimates at about 200 the number of children who are trafficked every month to Senegal under the pretext of accompanying them to follow religious education. But once in Senegal, the reality turns sour: “Each child talibe is forced to bring to the teacher 300-500 francs a day – says one of the rescued children - and this is very difficult to do, those who don’t do it are tortured….”.
There are also reports that many children from Guinea Bissau are seasonally trafficked to Senegal to work in cotton plantations. In most cases, parents believe that their children will receive a better religious education in Senegal.
AMIC, another local NGO involved in family reunification of trafficked children, estimates that approximately 98% of the trafficked children are boys against 2% of girls.
UNICEF is providing support to the Government of Guinea Bissau in order to stop this traffic. 80 Border and Immigration Police have been recently trained on human rights principles, international and local legislation and other issues linked to child trafficking, including how to detect and stop child traffickers.
UNICEF is also supporting AMIC and SOS Talibe, the two NGOs active on Child Traffic Prevention, Repatriation and Family Reintegration, with institutional reinforcement as well as equipment, “So that they can more adequately and effectively provide assistance to the children rescued during the process leading to family reunification, but also conduct prevention activities among the affected communities”, says Silvia Luciani, UNICEF Representative in Guinea Bissau.
Guinea Bissau has not yet adopted a law against child trafficking. Before the National Assembly dissolution in August this year, UNICEF was supporting a Parliamentary Committee on the elaboration of some projects of law relating to children, including child trafficking, and advocating for bi-lateral discussions between the Government of Guinea Bissau and the Government of Senegal on the issue of the trafficked children repatriation in Guinea Bissau.
“We will advocate for and support the preparation of a bi-lateral meeting in coordination with the UNICEF Office in Dakar, while we are waiting for the next Government to be in place, after the legislative election planned for the 16th of November”, complete the UNICEF Representative.
In the beginning of 2009, UNICEF will also support the Government to conduct an in depth study on child trafficking in Guinea Bissau.
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