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News note

74 additional trafficked children repatriated from Nigeria to Benin

BENIN, 16 October 2003 - Another group of 74 trafficked children, between the ages of 4 and 17 years old, was repatriated to Benin on Wednesday, 15 October.  Like the first group of 116 children who were repatriated on 26 September, these children worked in Nigerian quarries in Abeokuta. At the border, the children were handed over to the Beninese Minister of Family,  accompanied by representatives of UNICEF, Terre des hommes and the European Commission.

The children were taken to the Cotonou national stadium where UNICEF provided them with a bag containing clothing: tee-shirts, shorts, slippers and a toiletry kit including comb, soap, tooth paste, tooth brush, towel and sponge. UNICEF also provided sheets for the beds that have been installed in the sports facilities of the stadium. All children were also vaccinated upon their arrival against yellow fever and meningitis. UNICEF has also provided their first dinner and will continue to cover their meals for the duration of their stay at the stadium.

This is the second repatriation in 2 weeks of Beninese trafficked children coming from Nigeria. On 26 September, 116 children were handed over at the border under the same conditions. The children, ranging from 7 to 17 years old, have since then been dispatched to various rehabilitation centers in Cotonou ran by The Red Cross, Terre des hommes, Messagers de la paix and the Centre d’écoute et d’orientation. Almost all of the children (109 out of 116) come from the same province of Benin: the Zou. They are now being prepared for reintegration into their families. These families are being identified and will be prepared to receive their children back.

According to Nigerian sources, there might be thousands of Beninese children exploited in Nigeria. On Thursday, 16 October, an exploratory mission led by the Ministry of Family, including representatives of UNICEF/Benin, Terre des hommes and the Minors Protection Brigade, will depart from Cotonou. This mission will team up with staff from UNICEF/Nigeria and the Nigerian authorities and will assess the situation in Ogun State to identify sites where Beninese children might still be exploited.

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For further information, please contact:

UNICEF Benin: Chantal Lorho
tel: 229 032915, email: clorho@unicef.org




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