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News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Bureau of International Labor Affairs

ILAB Press Release: Labor Secretary Announces New Funding for Program to Combat Trafficking of Children for Exploitative Labor in Africa[04/23/2001]

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced today that the Department of Labor is providing $4.3 million through the International Labor Organization (ILO) for a program combating the trafficking of children for labor exploitation in West and Central Africa.

"The United States is committed to combating the trafficking of children for exploitative work," Chao said. "The project we are funding today will provide hope and relief to children who have fallen victim to traffickers and offer them real opportunities for the future through schooling. But our larger goal must be to prevent children from being placed in harm's way in the first place. We are committed to working with the countries of this region to put an end to this intolerable practice."

Over the past week, the phenomenon of child trafficking has come to the attention of the world community as allegations of a slave ship carrying as many as 250 children off the coast of West Africa appeared in the international media. While the facts surrounding these reports remain unclear, the story has highlighted the need for increased regional cooperation to address the problem.

In 1999, the Department of Labor provided funding to support efforts by the ILO's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor to collect information on the nature and scope of child trafficking in nine countries in West and Central Africa and to develop national and regional plans of action. The second phase of the project, funded today by the Department, will implement these action plans and ensure that concrete measures are taken to protect children victimized by the crime of trafficking. The project will benefit an estimated 27,000 child victims of trafficking and children at risk of being trafficked through rehabilitation and reintegration services and prevention activities. Countries covered by the project are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo.

In recent years, the number of reports of children being trafficked across borders for labor exploitation in West and Central Africa has steadily increased. Traffickers use the false promise of economic opportunity to lure children away from their homes. Most children end up working as virtual slaves, as domestic servants, on plantations, or in the commercial sex industry. They work long hours with little or no pay under conditions that place at risk their healthy physical, moral, and emotional development.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Bureau of International Labor Affairs
April 23, 2001
Media Contact: David Roberts
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