Otiko Djaba commissions first public Shelter to house victims of child trafficking

The only public shelter with the capacity to house 40 trafficked children at a time has been re-inaugurated in Accra.

The shelter has been non-functional for the past eight years due to non-maintenance and lack of funds to run it.

The facility was jointly inaugurated by the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Otiko Afisa Djaba, and the outgoing American Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert Jackson.

The shelter has two dormitory blocks for boys and girls, a kitchenette, a day-room, bungalows for social workers, a dining room, among others, and is to house victims for almost three months before they are re-integrated into the community.

The shelter was made possible by the International Organisation on Migration (IOM), the United States Embassy and the Government of Ghana.

Human trafficking ranking

Recently, Ghana’s fight against human trafficking (HT) received international recognition as the latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report upgraded the country from a Tier 2 Watch List to a Tier 2 ranking in the 2018 TIP Report.

Ghana was to face development assistance cuts from the United States if nothing was done to curb the high incidence of child labour and child trafficking in the country.

The report noted the government’s increased efforts to combat human trafficking in 2017, including implementing a national anti-trafficking plan, prosecuting and convicting an increased number of labour and sex traffickers and increasing cooperation across anti-trafficking government agencies.

In an address, Ms Djaba hinted that soon the ministry would also be inaugurating an adult female shelter, adding that the provision of a shelter would further boost the country’s anti-human trafficking rankings next year.

She said Ghana was a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children who were subjected to forced labour, sexual exploitation and domestic abuse.

Victim assistance

In order to reverse victims in their vulnerable situations back to normal and fight against the abuse of the rights of children, Ms Djaba said certain actions must be taken to protect victims of trafficking.

She said victim assistance was a helping relationship, a professional one and should have clear guidelines, direction and purpose.

She, therefore, called on those who would have the opportunity of manning the shelter to ensure that they worked to empower the victims.

Government committed

She said the government had demonstrated its political will to fight human trafficking by depositing GH¢ 500,000 into a special account opened for human trafficking.

Mr Jackson commended Ghana for her efforts so far to address issues on human trafficking.

He said the US assistance to the shelter became possible through a child protection compact agreement that Ghana had signed with the United States of America (USA).

The Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, in an address, said the provision of the shelter was necessary, if the country was to win the fight against human trafficking.

The Chief of Mission, IOM, Ms Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, said the organisation had so far committed an amount of US $52,000 to ensure that the shelter became a safe haven for children who were brought there.

She said comprehensive care was part of the rehabilitation of victims and, therefore, the shelter had been designed to meet all the medical, psycho-social physical needs and other needs of the children.

For her part, the Head, Human Trafficking Secretariat, Ms Victoria Natsu, pledged that the secretariat would ensure that the shelter became beneficial for the purpose for which it was established.

On behalf of Ghanaian children, Rebecca Obeng Kyere thanked the government, IOM and the USA for the support.

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