/ 9 May 2006

Africa opens talks to fight child-trafficking

Delegates from West and Central African countries gathered in Gabon’s capital Libreville on Tuesday to open talks on a joint accord to fight the trafficking of children and women that plagues the continent.

Gabon’s Foreign Minister, Jean-Francois Ndongou, opened the session, saying ”better regional cooperation is necessary” to combat trafficking.

”The situation in Africa remains worrying, but the amount of assistance offered by the states to the child victims … indicates a positive evolution,” added Alice Ouedraogo, the regional director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The meeting was organised by the ILO, the United Nations children’s agency and the UN office against drugs and crime. The goal is to draft an accord pledging cooperation in the fight against people-trafficking.

It could then be signed by the 26 countries of the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States at a summit in the Nigerian capital, Abuja in July.

Children in the region are generally trafficked from poor countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo to the richer states of Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Senegal, according to experts.

Some West African nations have adopted laws to suppress the trafficking, but others have no legislation.

The agreement drafted at the meeting will oblige the signatory nations to ratify the Palermo accord adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2000 which calls for ”preventing, suppressing and punishing the trafficking of people”, notably that of children and women. — AFP