The Alliance for Cameroon Youth Associations (AC-YA) together with its network of our 125 member organisations target to eradicate Child and Women Trafficking from Belo Sub Division , Boyo Division of the North West Region, Plagued by the ongoing Socio-economic crisis and ongoing war, where Belo Sub Division is one of the most affected and plagued epicentres.
That Alliance for Cameroon Youth Associations in a project sponsored by the Belo Council targets the traffficking of women and children victims to urban centres like Douala, Yaounde, Bamenda and abroad to countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Lebanon, Saudia Arabia promising them a great life but most of them end up being exploited to work as sex slaves.
The US Embassy reports that that, “according to the government study conducted during the reporting period, traffickers are using the Gulf of Guinea to move Cameroonian children to Côte d’Ivoire for exploitation in cocoa farming and Malian, Burkinabe, Beninese, or Togolese children to Cameroon for exploitation in farming in the North, West, and Northwest regions of Cameroon.”
High unemployment rates and economic uncertainty continued to drive many, especially women, to contemplate economic migration under questionable circumstances, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers. Government officials, NGO representatives, and media outlets stated the insecurity in some regions especially that in Belo Sub Division increased the risk of human trafficking due to the more than one million IDPs, diminished police and judicial presence, as well as deteriorated economic and educational conditions. The four years of intermittent school closures in the Northwest and Southwest regions especially in Belo Sub Division, where there is no school operational have resulted in some parents sending their children to stay with intermediaries who instead of providing education and safety, exploit the children in domestic servitude.
Child traffickers often use the promise of education or a better life in urban areas to convince rural parents to entrust their children to intermediaries, who then exploit the children in sex trafficking or forced labor; parents may play an active role early in the process due to their desire to remove their children from areas impacted by violence. Criminals coerce women, IDPs, children experiencing homelessness, and orphans into sex trafficking and forced labor throughout the country. Some labor recruiters lure children and adolescents from economically disadvantaged families to cities with the prospect of employment and then subject victims to labor or sex trafficking.
Traffickers exploit children from Belo Sub Division in domestic service, restaurants, as well as begging or vending on streets and highways. Additionally, criminal elements force children from Belo Municipality to work in artisanal gold mining, gravel quarries, fishing, animal breeding, and agriculture (on onion, cotton, tea, and cocoa plantations), as well as in urban transportation assisting bus drivers and in construction to run errands, work, or provide security. A government study highlighted Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and the maritime Gulf of Guinea area are the main channels through which traffickers move children intended for exploitation in domestic servitude in Gabon. Media reporting indicates exploitation in Cameroon’s fishing sector is widespread.
AC-YA with its huge network of members working in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Justice provided the following assistance to victims: shelter, basic assistance, psycho-social support, health care. AC- YA further proceeded in carrying out public education and sensitisation of the public where over 8000 people within Belo Sub Division and the North West Region were sensitized via local radio stations, social media, door to door sensitization and grassroot training of Community Based Organisations(CBOs), Church groups that is Faith Based Organisations(FBOs), Youth Groups and opinion leaders like traditional authorities. This helped us to do the Identification of 68 victims, followed up their withdrawal and reinsertion of trafficked victims will proceed with them learning a vocational trade or placement in schools for handon skills.
Trainings were also conducted on understanding the Dynamics of trafficking, National and International instruments that protect victims and punish perpetrators, the effects of trafficking on the individual, family community and nation as a whole and how victims can be identified and helped and on the necessity of a referral pathway to assist trafficked victims/survivors.
The project that was launched last year July 2022 after just 9 months of implementation lots of progress has been recorded as over 148 CSOs now priorities interventions on Child and Women Trafficking during this period of war. 68 victims already received support as follows: over 65 victims of trafficking and 40 have received various forms of assistance as can be seen below.
- 68 victims of trafficking, received psychosocial therapies. While some received psychosocial first aid, some received more specialist mental health counselling. Others also participated in group counselling, as well as family sessions. All these therapies facilitated the reintegration of victims into their families. This was particularly difficult for those who were involved in prostitution and Children associated with armed groups because they were stigmatized.
- 68 victims of trafficking also received direct protection assistance in the form of transportation, medical assistance, vocational training, support to go back to school, non-food items like clothing, beds, stove, support for petty business, 19 were helped to have birth certificates and 6 assisted to establish ID Cards.
The Belo COuncil is so satisfied that this project is bringing about behavioural change and has reduced the rampant trafficking of kids and women within its municipally. Envisaging that the second phase will be economically support the victims to set up income generating activities.
Report by Municipal Communication Department, Belo Municipal Council