IOM rolls out new Ghana anti-child trafficking campaign

Child labourThe International Organization for Migration (IOM) on May 3, 2013 announced the roll out of a new information toolkit designed to build local capacity in Ghana’s Volta Region to prevent child trafficking and address protection concerns.

Known as “Free to Be Me”, the IOM toolkit addresses counter-trafficking and related legislation; birth registration and children’s legal identity; the dangers of child trafficking; reproductive health and family planning; the rights of the child, and good parenting skills.

According to the organization, many trafficked children are forced to work in fishing communities of Lake Volta which is located east of Ghana, under hazardous and exploitative conditions.

The new toolkit is being tested in six communities in the region’s Ketu South, North and South Tongu districts. IOM hoped to reach all six participating communities by the end of July 2013.

Since 2002, the IOM says together with its partners, they have rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated some 731 trafficked children from the Lake Volta fishing industry.

It says the new anti-child trafficking campaign promotes a community-driven approach to address on-going protection concerns in the region adding that in each community, members start by discussing child protection and sign a commitment to community self-empowerment.

“The commitment is symbolized through the creation of a ‘Community Tree of Life’, which is painted in a prominent location in town, as a daily reminder to community members to protect children from abuse and forced labour,” IOM Chief of Mission in Ghana Dyane Epstein described the new campaign in a statement.

“Parents paint the roots of the tree, Chiefs and elders the trunk, teachers the branches, and everyone including children use handprints to depict leaves and fruits, which will be borne from the work of the community and are fed back to them,” she adds.

IOM said it has developed the “Free to Be Me” campaign concept over the past 11 years of working with children, parents, local leaders and fishermen.

By Ekow Quandzie

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