According to UNICEF report ‘A Child is a Child: Protecting children on the move from violence, abuse and exploitation,’ there is a rise in the global number of refugee and migrant children moving alone. The report shows that an increasing number of these children are taking highly dangerous routes, often at the mercy of smugglers and traffickers, to reach their destinations, clearly justifying the need for a global protection system to keep them safe from exploitation, abuse and death (UNICEF).
Protecting children and keeping them safe is one of the hallmark of the International Swiss Social Service (ISS) / West Africa Network for the Protection of children (WAN) supported project.
Therefore, in keeping with the WAN standard, 24 persons were identified of which 6 were males and 18 were females. They were between the ages of 7 to 25 years old and were identified by the following:
12 from Benin Republic were identified by Benin Embassy in Lagos, 9 cases identified by AWCY (4 from Benin Republic, 5 out of the 6 deaf dumb girls from Nigeria that were trafficked to Benin Republic for begging).
3 cases identified by GPI of which two were national cases (a trafficked girl and a secondary school girl under the pressure to drop out of school and given out in marriage) and one international case (the 6th deaf and dumb girl trafficked to Benin Republic for begging).
They were listened to, counselled and had access to emergency needs. The 12 children and young adults from Benin Republic have been taken back and re-integrated into the society.
FAMILY TRACING AND REUNION:
Traced the following families during the period:
Our partner in Ondo (Emmanuel Foundation) traced the family of Oliwaotimi Faith in Ondo State (the girl was identified in Burkina Faso). The family of Faith was very happy to have news about their daughter.
According to the parents, since the girl left without informing anybody, they have not heard anything about her whereabout. They were so grateful to our partner for the information and look forward to receiving her.
GPI Benin traced the family of Peter Ruth in Benin City. The girl was identified in Togo and 11th of April 2018 has been fixed for her return.
Equally traced the 24 girls identified in Burkina Faso and were returned through the Nigerian Embassy. During the tracing through phone calls, majority of them refused to disclose their addresses of where they were returned to. Some contacts reached even claimed not to know anything about the returnees in question. Some of the returnees said that they have been promised support by IOM and that they were not told anything about WAN to work with them in Nigeria. The only two that disclosed their addresses (one in Lagos and the second in Abuja) were referred to WOCON in Lagos and WAN Nigeria North, respectively.
We received the following seven cases:
7-year-old Acha Olayode from Cote D’lvoire was reunited with her parents in Ogun State.
Six deaf and dumb girls (between the ages of 17 to 26 years old) that were trafficked to Cotonou and were used for begging through Nigerian Immigration Service in Seme Border in collaboration with WAN Benin and Nigerian Embassy. Though they were from Kwara, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo and Imo States by origin, they live in different parts of Ondo and were reunited with their families except the one from Imo State that was escorted to Imo.
The International Swiss Social Service (ISS) / West Africa Network for the Protection of children (WAN) supported project has contributed to the placing of the issue of children on the move on the agenda nationally and sub-regionally and the WAN Standards have been adopted by ECOWAS for use in the region.
372 children and young adults have been supported by WAN Nigeria South by way of uniting them with their families and re-integrating them into the society, by way of returning them back to schools, learn a trade and/or set up businesses for them.
In sensitization, some endemic communities of origin were sensitized on issues of children on the move, while also building capacities of local NGOs in 17 Southern States to better identify and support children on the move