Border Community and Human Trafficking Education

It is important to be aware of the extent to which human trafficking is an issue and how trafficking cases occur. Baseline information that one can use to evaluate the further growth of the problem, as well as the effectiveness of the policies and programs in place to tackle trafficking must also emerge. More in-depth qualitative research is necessary to understand the nature of trafficking in the country, including the recruitment process, the routes and destinations, victim profiles and the forms of exploitation.

5 Facts About Human Trafficking in Cameroon

The Trafficking of Children Remains an Issue: Human trafficking in Cameroon involves children. Through the Ministry of Social Affairs (MINAS), Cameroon was able to identify 1,147 street children vulnerable to trafficking in 2019 in comparison to the 877 children in 2018. Child trafficking victims often work on agricultural plantations where they do not receive compensation. According to a study done in 2012 that the Cameroonian government partially prepared, between 600,000 and 3 million children were victims of human trafficking. These children often must travel vast distances, forever experiencing separation from their families. Many times, when the children become old enough to resist coercion, traffickers deport them out of Cameroon.

The Government has Increased its Efforts to Protect Victims: In 2019, government officials in Cameroon identified 77 potential human trafficking victims, which is an increase from 2018 when they identified 62 potential human trafficking victims. The government, along with other private centers that receive funding from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continue to provide services for minors and vulnerable children who are at risk of becoming trafficking victims. All individuals including children who Cameroon’s government officials identified as human trafficking victims received care. These services offer food, shelter, vocational training, education, medical and psychological care and family tracing.
Cameroon has Committed Itself to Addressing Boko Haram: Since 2014, Boko Haram has participated in transnational human trafficking across Western Africa, including in Cameroon. Throughout the past several years, Boko Haram has continued to target and traffic women and children within Cameroon. As Boko Haram threatens Cameroon and other neighboring states, Cameroon has committed itself to lead tireless combat against Boko Haram with no impunity for those responsible for the attacks. Specifically, Cameroon deployed two military operations in 2014 including Operation EMERGENCE 4 and Operation ALPHA to combat Boko Haram. Both operations continue to work towards fighting Boko Haram and eliminating transnational human trafficking.

Funding Remains an Issue: The lack of funding within Cameroon continues to impede the government’s implementation of its anti-trafficking national action plan. No one knows the exact amount that currently goes toward Cameroon’s anti-trafficking national action plan and the amount of money necessary to properly implement it, as the government has not disclosed it to the public. Unfortunately, because funding has limitations within Cameroon, the country has cut many training programs that aim to educate law enforcement to detect situations of trafficking. The lack of funding limits the amount of research that the country can do with regards to human trafficking while also limiting the amount of aid and resources that it can provide to victims of human trafficking.

Cameroon Maintains its Efforts to Prevent Human Trafficking: MINAS continues to inform Cameroonians about trafficking indicators through public awareness campaigns. In 2019, the government provided 2,864 informational sessions addressing human trafficking indicators and providing ways to help prevent human trafficking to Cameroonians. These 2019 informational sessions reached 397,447 individuals compared to only 69,000 in 2018. Law enforcement’s and immigration officials’ screening efforts within Cameroon’s international airports prevented several potential human trafficking victims from experiencing exploitation over the past several years.

Looking Ahead

To address human trafficking in Cameroon, the nation has made efforts to focus on families, recognizing how families can often play a role in facilitating trafficking. Many impoverished families often must sell children, especially girls, into trafficking and are unable to protect the children and women from becoming trafficking victims. With assistance from the United Nations, Cameroon has continued to work towards eliminating trafficking by aligning its laws and regulations with international law to ensure that the trafficking of persons undergoes criminalization. Working closely with NGOs as well as intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) such as The Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Cameroon hopes to eliminate human trafficking and continues to prioritize it as a primary issue.

The first step to preventing human trafficking and prosecuting the traffickers is therefore to recognize the complexity of the crime which cannot be tackled in a vacuum. Anti-trafficking strategies have to be embedded in every policy area, from improving female education in source countries so that girls are less vulnerable to trafficking, to increasing police pay in destination countries so that officers are less susceptible to bribery. We cannot allow ourselves to marginalize the issue of trafficking, viewing it as something that can be ended with a few extra taskforces or dedicated units. We need everyone to be aware of how it affects them, and what they can do to stop it. Laudable efforts in this direction have already been made. In 2000, the United Nations launched the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, which established a victim-centred approach to trafficking. It has since been signed by 177 countries. In 2005, the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings marked a step towards greater cooperation and dedication within Europe.

But more needs to be done. Many people still do not know what trafficking is, or do not care. We are working to change that, at every level of society. We have continued to build on our grassroots support, firm in the belief that trafficking cannot be stopped by international conventions alone. Our focus is currently geared towards three key campaigns.

Only with a concerted effort by governments, private companies, non-governmental organizations, and above all communities, can we hope to end the horror of human trafficking. Stop the Traffik has developed into an independent charity with over 1,500 member organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world who refuse to tolerate the existence of slavery in the twenty-first century.

People are talking, communities are rising, global networks are being forged and governments are responding to the united message that human trafficking must end.

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