IOM Leads Emergency Rescue Operation of Trafficked Children in Senegal
GENEVA, Switzerland, April 2, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- IOM Senegal is organizing the return and family reunification of 36 trafficked children who survived a fire in a Koranic school in Dakar.
The children – 22 from Guinea Bissau, one from Guinea Conakry and 13 from Senegal – were rescued in early March by Senegalese social workers and brought to a government-run shelter.
IOM subsequently provided food and health services, coordinated emergency assistance and organized the return of those children originating from outside Senegal.
"This incident puts the issue of child protection in Senegal and in particular child victims of human trafficking, exploitation and abuse on top of the political agenda. Given the urgency of the situation and the vulnerability of the children, IOM stepped in to provide immediate emergency assistance," says IOM Regional Director for West and Central Africa Carmela Godeau.
Twenty children were returned to Guinea Bissau on Friday (29/3), where they are being assisted by IOM and local NGO partners.
Some of the children will be reunited with their families, while others will be provided with shelter and legal guardianship until their families are traced, and their best interests are determined. The families will be offered reintegration support to enable the children to attend school or other training.
The Government of Senegal is working to implement a 2005 anti-trafficking law which criminalizes forced child begging. The Prime Minister's office is currently fine-tuning with its partners, including IOM, a comprehensive plan of action.
The operation to help the children was funded by the U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J / TIP) and IOM's Global Assistance Fund (GAF.) IOM is appealing to donors to continue to support its regional programme for the return and reintegration of trafficked children in West Africa in order to respond to future requests.