Plans are far advanced for the construction accommodation facilities for victims of human-trafficking, the Women and Children Affairs Minister has said.
Accra and Kumasi have been selected to benefit from the first phase of the project.
Anti-human-trafficking have long pushed for the provision of shelter to protect victims of human trafficking, arguing the absence of such facilities forced campaigners to send victims back to the very environment from where they were abused and trafficked from exposing them to harm and further violation.
The Women and ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Affairs Minister, Mrs Juliana Azumah Mensah said the decision to put up the structures was the governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s response to the dire need to give impetus to the work of counter-trafficking agencies.
She was addressing participants of a four-day collaborative workshop for law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, prosecutors, government officials and non-governmental organizations on combating trafficking in persons and irregular migration in Ghana.
The workshop was sponsored by the Danish Embassy with support from the Women and Children Affairs Ministry and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Mrs Azumah Mensah expressed satisfaction that Ã¢â‚¬Å“information dissemination and awareness raising campaigns have yielded some positive results in view of the frequent [reports] about child migrants and the effects on the nationÃ¢â‚¬Â.
She urged campaigners to continue to work assiduously towards rooting the canker out of the country.
The Chief of Mission of IOM, Dyane Epstein catalogued the achievements of the counter-trafficking project in the country.
She said Ã¢â‚¬Å“the first component of [the project] entailed carrying out an information campaign targeting potential migrants in the Western Region, which has been identified as a highly-endemic area for irregular migration, especially for stowaways. Under this component, a Migration Consultation Centre and a hot-line were established in Sekondi-Takoradi in the Western Region in order to provide potential migrants with information on procedures pertaining to the acquisition of authentic travel and identity documents, the risks and dangers associated with irregular migration, and potential opportunities for safe and legal migration.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The centre is currently being managed by the Research and Counselling for African Migrants Foundation (RECFAM), an NGO that is based in Takoradi. Under the same information campaign, various awareness raising activities, such as community fora and lively drama performances on human trafficking and irregular migration, were carried out in 73 communities, including many schools and churches, within the Greater Accra and Western Regions of Ghana in close coordination with the Ghana Immigration Service and other partners.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ms Epstein stressed that Ã¢â‚¬Å“in meeting the health needs of migrants, two free HIV Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centres (VCT) have been set up and were launched last week in Takoradi in order to enable them to commence operations in the Western Region in coordination with the Ghana Health Service. 473 people have already undergone voluntary counselling and testing, with those infected with HIV/AIDS being referred for specialised medical treatment.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The IOM Chief of Mission explained that Ã¢â‚¬Å“the second component entailed building the capacity of law enforcement authorities and the judiciary to prevent and combat trafficking and irregular migration by working together in the detection, investigation, and prosecution process. From the various trainings held for the judiciary, law enforcement, security services, and prosecutors, I am pleased to announce that a total of 123 officials have undergone training on human trafficking, which exceeded the initial project target of 90 officials.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Emphasizing the importance of the capacity building workshops, Ms Epstein said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“lessons learned and best practices have been identified and put into practice, resulting in significant gains made in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers and in the reduction in the number of irregular migrants departing from the Western Region.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am confident that this third and final collaborative workshop will successfully build upon and further enhance the already good collaboration established among the agencies represented here today,Ã¢â‚¬Â she added.
Story by Malik Abass Daabu