41 children rescued from slavery on the Volta Lake

fishingA total of 41 children who were trafficked into slavery on the Volta Lake were rescued in 2015 by Challenging Heights, a non-governmental organisation.

Another 118 survivors were provided comprehensive medical, psychological, physical, social and educational rehabilitation at its shelter during that period.

Out of that, 74 of the survivors were reintegrated with their families after spending between three and nine months at the Challenging Height’s Shelter, the 2015 Annual Report of the NGO has revealed.

Additional 82 children who had already been reintegrated with their families, guardians and caregivers were also monitored at home, school and provided with educational and material support.

Child trafficking and forced labour remains a significant problem in Ghana with both the total number and the proportion of children in child labour increasing in recent years.

Data from the Ghana Statistical Service indicates that 1.9 million children aged 5-17 are engaged in child labour with 1.2 million of the children engaged in hazardous labour.

Ghana was downgraded to the Tier 2 Watch-List status in the 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TiP) report as Government efforts were deemed insufficient to tackle the problem of hundreds of thousands of people trapped in modern slavery; including an estimated 21,000 children trapped in hazardous labour on the Volta Lake.

The President of Challenging Heights, Mr James Kofi Annan, said through targeted awareness programmes, knowledge and understanding about trafficking and child rights have increased in Winneba and its surrounding areas.

“We reached thousands of vulnerable and underserved people in 2015 by not only directly saving children but empowering their families and wider communities to bring about long-term systematic change,” he added.

Mr Annan said the organisation’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme (WEEP) supported 254 carers of vulnerable children through the provision of loans and trainings in various skills.

“We inaugurated a smoke house with 56 smoke ovens to be used by local women’s cooperatives, with an additional 30 women provided with oven racks for use at home. Construction of the Challenging Heights Cold-Store that will underpin the whole WEEP site was started last year and is due for completion,” he said.

Mr Annan said Challenging Heights School supported over 720 children in 2015 whiles the organisation’s Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) trained 124 young men and 114 young women in ICT, leadership and business with 108 entering apprenticeships, finding employment or accessing further education.

The President of Challenging Heights noted that the organisation seeks to protect and improve the lives of young people and communities affected by child trafficking and the worst forms of child labour.

Mr Annan urged the government to increase its efforts in prosecuting trafficking offenders and also provide funds for the Human Trafficking Fund, the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the police service and government shelters which are in deplorable states.

By 3news.com|Ghana

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