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Human trafficking booms on Eastern corridor

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policeThe Eastern Corridor of the Northern Region, particularly areas around Zabzugu and Tatale, is fast becoming a transit point for human trafficking activities.

According to statistics made available by the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, 18 people aged between four and 19 were trafficked to neighbouring countries such as Mali, Togo and Nigeria by a syndicate operating in the area in 2012 alone.

In 2010, two cases were recorded in the Walewale area.

However, due to intensive surveillance being mounted by the police and other stakeholders, it appears the activities of the group are being frustrated.

Communities along the Eastern Corridor  include Saboba, Chereponi, Yendi, Gushiegu, Salaga and Nanumba South and North districts.

The DOVVSU, with support from the Department of Social Welfare and Recfam, a local non-governmental organisation, has been able to reintegrate 30 children who were previously trafficked along the Zabzugu/Tatale area into their respective families and communities.

As a result of the intensive surveillance to stem the tide, two suspects who were allegedly involved in human trafficking at Tatale under the pretext of offering their victims jobs in Nigeria were arrested by the Northern Regional Police Command on June 19, 2013.

Issah Yakubu, 26, and Abdul Karim Habib, 29, were said to have so far trafficked 18 Ghanaians, mainly children, to Nigeria.

Their modus operandi is to persuade their victims into believing that when they are sent to Nigeria they will be offered jobs which could enable them to buy motorbikes within a relatively short time.

The Regional Crime Officer, Superintendent of Police Alhaji Arhin Mahama, told The Mirror in Tamale that the police, upon a tip-off, mounted surveillance on the suspects.

He explained that Yakubu and Habib, in their latest operation, had completed arrangements and succeeded in trafficking three Ghanaians to Nigeria before they were arrested by the police.

The names of two of the victims were given as Seidu Yahaya and one Osman but the name of the third victim is yet to be known.

The officer said when Yakubu and Habib were questioned, they admitted committing the offence and added that they had an accomplice called Annan who traffics the victims  to Nigeria.

Yakubu and Habib, according to Alhaji Mahama, gave the phone number of the accomplice to the police who in turn called the number and spoke to the victims.

They (the victims) allegedly lamented about the deplorable situation they found themselves in Nigeria.

The Mirror also gathered that in recent times human trafficking in Tatale is increasing partly because the area is close to the Togo border.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimate that between 200,000 and 300,000 children are trafficked each year for forced labour and sexual exploitation in West and Central Africa.

It has been observed that the figures might be higher, since there is no reliable data due to various reasons such as the underground and illegal nature of human trafficking, the lack of anti-trafficking legislation in some African countries and the reluctance of the victims to report their experiences to the authorities.

According to the Regional Coordinator of DOVVSU, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Emmanuel Holortu, parental neglect, inability of parents to control their children, poverty and broken homes are some of the major causes of human trafficking along the corridor.

He said most of the victims, who were mainly children, fell prey to those engaged in that criminal act partly because their parents were divorced and had entered into new relationships, hence they were exposed as there was no care for them.

He further revealed that in the case of a particular four-year-old boy who was trafficked to Mali, his own father gave him out to the traffickers.

The DOVVSU Regional Coordinator once again observed that these victims, particularly the girls, suffer from all forms of abuse, including the fact that some of them are used as sex slaves or for prostitution while their male counterparts are engaged in menial jobs.

ASP Holortu was of the view that there must be effective monitoring and surveillance to clamp down on the activities of the syndicate, noting that a lot of activities had been put in place in collaboration with non-governmental organisations to nip the practice in the bud.

Source: The Mirror

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