News from Africa

IOM Returns Ugandan Child Domestic Trafficking Victims to Families


Té / 17 October 2012

IOM Uganda yesterday (15/10) returned a total of 51 trafficked children to their extended families in Karamoja sub-region in northern Uganda. The children are among hundreds of minors who are trafficked every year from rural Uganda to urban areas, particularly the capital, Kampala.

The children that IOM is returning were forced to beg on the streets, but other trafficked children also end up as domestic servants, scrap metal collectors or engaged in petty thievery. All are at risk and many endure beatings, rape and other types of violence. Almost all of them are denied a chance at education.

"I am excited to go back home to live with my parents again and feel their warmth. The lady who brought me to Kampala said she was my aunt, but she did not love me. She took me out to beg even on rainy days and did not take me to school as she promised my parents," said a 14 year old girl returnee.

The children come from Karamoja - one of the poorest regions in the country, prone to prolonged droughts, cattle rustling, extreme poverty and a population highly dependent on food aid.

IOM and its local NGO implementing partners - Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO) and Dwelling Places - provided the children with food, shelter, medical, education, counselling and legal assistance in Kampala, following their rescue by the authorities.

In Karamoja, in coordination with local partners Community Livestock and Integrated Development Consultancy (CLIDE), Institute for International Cooperation and Development (C&D) and Action for Poverty Reduction and Livestock Modernisation in Karamoja (ARELIMOK), IOM traced the children’s families ahead of their return to Karamoja.

IOM has also carried out an assessment of family needs, accommodation, schools, health and counselling services to ensure the smooth reintegration of the children and minimize the risk of re-trafficking.

"This is a complex process which needs coordination from all sides by the government, NGOs, the media, civil society and individual citizens to protect these children," says IOM Uganda Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. "Identifying the root causes of the problem is essential if we are to stop these children from re-appearing on the streets, and to prevent the problem occurring in the first place."

The return of the children comes a year after IOM launched its Coordinated Response to Human Trafficking in Uganda (CRTU) programme, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which aims to protect child victims of domestic trafficking.

IOM works closely with the Ugandan government, national and international organizations to rescue and return home victims of trafficking and to prevent the trafficking of minors from rural areas to urban centres for domestic labour, begging and sexual exploitation.

Over the past seven months, IOM has conducted research into the history and patterns of trafficking in the Kampala-Karamoja corridor through interactions with community leaders, organisations and communities in Karamoja, Mbale, Jinja and Kampala.

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 16, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)

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