A five-year strategic campaign aimed at reducing the spate of child trafficking in Ghana, was launched in Accra on Friday.
The initiative, spearheaded by the Anglican Diocese of Accra, in collaboration with the United States (US) Embassy, would drive individual and societal change to fight child trafficking in the country.
Launching the project which has the theme, ‘Children are gifts from God: Love, guide and protect them”, the US Ambassador, Mr. Robert Jackson, reiterated his government’s commitment to help Ghana end child trafficking, which he described as slavery.
He said the US government had contributed $5 million to foster efforts to address child labour and sex trafficking in the country, adding that, $14 million had also been secured to tackle exploitation of children in the mining areas.
According to the Ambassador, three key areas including prosecution of traffickers, protection of victims and prevention were fundamental in tackling child trafficking, and called for increased awareness on the growing canker.
“When people are aware of the trauma trafficked children go through, and how victims are captured, they can protect and prevent their children from falling victim,” he stated.
Mr. Jackson implored the church and civil society organisations to be at the forefront of discussions on the issue in order to dispel misconceptions and protect the well being of children.
The Right Reverend Daniel S.M Torto, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Accra, said the project was in line with the church’s vision to stand up for the vulnerable in society and impact the nation at large.
The church, he said, would focus on areas of education, protection, livelihood empowerment and advocacy which he described as the root cause of child trafficking, in the course of the five-year project.
He said, affordable and general educational support would be given to children from deprived families while raising awareness on behavioural change, rescue, reintegration and monitoring of trafficked children.
In addition, the church would ensure the sustainable economic empowerment of families to reduce poverty levels and influence policies, laws and programmes to protect children in the country.
Rt. Rev. Torto indicated that the church would build capacity of its agents, individuals and groups to check the abuse and engage stakeholders to enforce laws to eradicate child trafficking.
“We will endeavour to within this five years build a new community which will be called Hope Community where rescued children will be resettled and assisted to develop their God-given talents”, he added.
The Accra Diocese Bishop expressed gratitude to the US Embassy for their support and other state institutions that have identified with the campaign and hoped that the impact of child trafficking on children would soon be eliminated.
The Executive Secretary of the Human Trafficking Secretariat at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP), Mrs. Victoria Natsu lauded the initiative and called on other religious organisations to emulate the good example to safeguard the rights of children.
Ghana was recently ranked as a Tier 2 Watch List country in the Trafficking in Person (TIP) report released by the US government.
The report suggested that Ghana could be subjected to a Tier 3 ranking which may come with restrictions on bilateral assistance next year if government failed to tackle the threat in a far more deliberate manner.
By Abigail Annoh