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Two NGOs receive $5m for US, Ghana Child Protection Partnership

The US Embassy and the US government’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons have awarded $5 million to Free the Slaves (FTS), an international NGO working in Ghana, and the International Organization on Migration (IOM) for activities to support the recently signed US-Ghana Child Protection Compact Partnership.

The Child Protection Compact Partnership (CPC) is the first-ever jointly developed plan to address child sex trafficking and forced child labor within Ghana. It was signed by Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Nana Oye Lithur and former US Ambassador to Ghana Gene Cretz, on June 23, 2015, at the Flagstaff House.

The US Embassy says the signing of the CPC demonstrated the commitment of President Mahama and the ministers of the participating ministries – Gender, Children and Social Protection; Justice; Interior; and Employment and Labor Relations – to enhancing the protection of Ghanaian children.

As implementing partners of the CPC, IOM and FTS will work collaboratively with the government of Ghana and civil society organizations to combat forced child labor and child sex trafficking in the Volta, Central, and Greater Accra regions over the next four years by enhancing internal coordination, protocol and referral mechanisms for victim identification, and ensuring a timely and effective response to suspected cases of trafficking.

“The Organization will also build the skills of social service workers, police, judges and prosecutors, and support increased enforcement of child trafficking laws by providing logistical support to Ghanaian police and assisting victims and witnesses’ participation in criminal proceedings”, the statement said

The American Embassy in Accra says support for improved care and rehabilitation services to child survivors will also take place for 18 months in a government-sponsored shelter.

The statement said IOM’s funding for these projects totals $2.54 million.

Free the Slaves in partnership with International Needs Ghana (INGH), will also train community leaders to recognize child trafficking and take appropriate action, help reintegrate rescued victims into communities while supporting livelihood alternatives for their families; and provide staff training and sub-grants to selected NGOs for aftercare services to child trafficking victims.

“FTS will receive $2.46 million in funding, combined with $53,044 in funds contributed from other sources.”

Children who are vulnerable due to economic hardships in Ghana are sometimes subjected to forced child labor in fishing, domestic service, street hawking, begging, pottering, quarrying, artisanal gold mining, and agriculture.

Girls, and to a lesser extent boys, are also subjected to sex trafficking within Ghana, including in the three regions that are the focus of this Partnership: the Central, Volta, and Greater Accra regions.

“This Partnership represents the inaugural opportunity for the United States to work cooperatively with the Ghanaian ministries responsible for child protection and law enforcement and the civil society organizations that work diligently to end child trafficking in Ghana and build a better future for Ghana’s children.” Susan Coppedge, the U.S. Ambassador at Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons said.

By Emmanuel Odonkor