Address child trafficking in Plateau conflict areas
Addressing child trafficking in the Plateau conflict areas
By Martha Agas, News Agency of Nigeria
Around the world, millions of people are trafficked annually in what mirrors the slave trade of yesteryear.
Experts say that children are the most vulnerable group trafficked globally. According to a United Nations report, one in three victims of human trafficking is a child.
Low-income countries have a higher proportion of child labor providers.
Among low-income countries it is more endemic among West African countries.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO)the African continent registers the highest prevalence of children between 5 and 17 years of age.
Similarly, UNICEF says that it is estimated that in some West African countries more than 40 per cent of the total population between the ages of 5 and 17 is engaged in child labour.
One of the West African countries where child labor and trafficking are causing serious social problems is Nigeria.
The matter is worse in the northern part of the country where insecurity and clashes between farmers and herders have aggravated the situation.
The burden falls heavily on those living in rural areas, where poverty has intensified the challenge by making children more likely to be trafficked into domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation.
Experts say that women and girls are trafficked primarily for these reasons, while boys are used as labor in construction, street vending, farming and mining, among others.
Security challenges stemming from the sectarian crisis in 2001, Plateau, a state in the north central region of the country, has triggered this challenge in the state.
The destruction of lives, property and livelihoods as a result of the crisis has increased poverty in the areas and exposed women, mainly widows and children, to trafficking and child labour.
According to the Plateau State Emergency Management Board in Plateau, in recent times no fewer than 3,000 children have been displaced in three communities in Miango District, Bassa Local Government Area in clashes between ranchers and farmers.
According to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Human Trafficking (NAP TIP) human trafficking is a huge challenge in Plateau.
The agency said all 17 local government areas in the state are points of origin, transit or destination, with Riyom, Bassa and Langtang North local governments being the most endemic.
The agency said it has recorded 85 trafficking cases with 146 victims in the state from March 2021 to date.
According to stakeholders, traffickers disguise themselves as missionaries in intervention projects in communities in conflict with the mission of rescuing children from the aftermath of the crisis, with the promise of quality education, vocational training and other opportunities for them. .
Parents are eventually tricked into releasing their children.
In Jebbu Miango, one of the communities hardest hit by the crisis in the Bassa Local Government Area, community leader Chief Gado Dama said a NGO of Kaduna he arrived with a representative posing as a clergyman.
He said that the agent promised to help in the enrollment of children to school in the areas.
According to him, it was discovered that the agent eventually hired them for forced labor on construction sites in Kaduna.
NAPTIP Plateau State Commander Adole Alexander said 68 children were rescued in 2021 from a fake orphanage called Our Lordship Orphanage in Joseph.
Alexander said the operators were recruiting children from adamawa, taraba and something LGAs like Langtang, Qua’anpang and Riyom in Plateau.
In the Riyom local government area, the Ta-hoss community ranks high in child trafficking.
NAPTIP notes that despite their awareness campaigns in the area, the communities do not seem to bother to stop the act.
Experts say that dealing with the threat would require concerted efforts from all stakeholders.
An advocate for peace, the Rev. Samuel Beaniehe said governments and other stakeholders should demystify the Child Rights Act, breaking it down to grassroots people.
Cap, is also the Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Peace in Nigeria (CEPAN)
He said it should be used as a basis for advocacy in communities where child trafficking is most endemic.
“We have the Law of the Rights of the Child in force and I advise parents to read and understand the policy.
I want the state government and NGOs to demystify the Law by making it simple to understand and concise.
“It can be produced and distributed in schools because some teachers don’t know about the policy and children need to understand it too,” he said.
He said the action would enlighten parents about the risk of handing their children over to strangers to reflect on.
According to him, the government should support initiatives aimed at women and orphans in the communities most affected by the conflicts.
“We want to empower them socially and economically so that no one approaches them and tricks them into taking their children, even politically,” he said.
Similarly, the Plateau Child Protection Network, an NGO, said its members work in synergy with relevant organizations to tackle child trafficking in the state.
The Acting State Coordinator of the network, Ms. Zawaya comforthe said through the platform, members coordinate and refer child trafficking cases for appropriate action.
Realizing the enormity of the challenge posed by the trafficking of girls and women and forced labour, the Plateau government said it will not give up the fight against this problem.
The state Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Social Development says it is providing counseling services, sheltering trafficked children and empowering them to prevent re-trafficking.
She said the ministry conducts a needs assessment before facilitating skills acquisition and school enrollment for returnees.
“ We try to link trafficked children with places where they can acquire skills.
At the end of their training we try to give them starter packs and a small stipend.
“This is because if they are not empowered they can go back to their traffickers, this year we have empowered 15 of them,” said Agricultural Director, Child Welfare, Ms. Celina Setlet.
An emphasis on documentation has been identified by stakeholders as critical to addressing child trafficking.
Civil society organizations (CSOss) in Plateau have called on the government and key stakeholders to ensure internally displaced persons were duly documented.
The president of the CSOs of the state, Mr. gad shamaki He said the action would help mitigate the impact of conflicts, even as he called for concerted efforts at conflict resolution and prevention.
Similarly, the founder of the Displaced Women and Children Foundation, Mr. salis abdulsalamhe wants the Plateau government to create a special office responsible for displaced people in the state.
According to him, this will facilitate the collection of your data for the necessary assistance.
He suggested that the office should be established in the State Emergency Management Agency.
He also urged NAPTIP to partner with relevant CSOs in the state, especially those working at the grassroots level, for effective intervention and arrest of traffickers.
As NAPTIP continues its crusade against child trafficking, stakeholders say public information, advocacy, and economic empowerment are critical to achieving desired results.
**If used, please credit the writer and Nigerian News Agency.
News sourceCredit: YAYA