Ethiopian Mihiret was only fifteen years old when a man lured her family into sending her away to the city on a promise of a better education. But what seemed like a good opportunity was in fact an open door to exploitation. Once in Addis Ababa, the young girl was placed with a family, not as a guest but as a domestic worker. Locked away from the outside world, she endured heavy workloads, with very little food, and regular punishments.
Mihiret is one of the many cases of human trafficking within her country - often a first step for girls and boys to be smuggled into neighbouring states and beyond. The Better Migration Management Programme (BMM) supports the local non-governmental organisation Forum on Sustainable Child Empowerment (FSCE) to prevent the trafficking of minors in Addis Ababa and reduce irregular migration. In 2017, the FSCE offered comprehensive support to 645 trafficked and/or unaccompanied boys and girls. Mihiret was one of them. One year after being taken to Addis Ababa, she has now been reunited with her family, rescued by the FSCE, with the support of the Women, Children, Youth, & Social Affairs Bureau and the local police. Those responsible for her hardship have meanwhile been brought into custody. The case is currently being investigated and may soon find its way to court.
With the support of the BMM, the FSCE has been able to extend their efforts and to set-up temporary accommodation centres for minors and drop-in centres for other vulnerable migrants, particularly women, in major migration corridors. Since January 2018, the BMM has provided food, sanitary materials, school material, and supported individuals with documentation, family tracing, transportation and family reunification. Between January and March of this year, 201 boys and girls, aged 13-18, were found by the FSCE after being smuggled or trafficked. Since some of these minors did not want to be reunified with their families, the BMM also supported the FSCE in the field of vocational training and the development of business ideas including financing of possible start-ups. 23 boys and girls have benefited from these programs. The organisation has also provided minors with temporary shelter, counselling, and, as in the case of Mihiret, family reunification services.
Unaccompanied minors are not rare along the migration routes in the Horn of Africa. According to theUnited Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in 2016, worldwide 44 million children were living in forced displacement, either internally or outside their home country. They migrate for various reasons: to escape abuse and exploitation in their family; to escape child marriage; due to peer-pressure; or by being deceived and coerced by human traffickers. It is also not uncommon for families to send their children away in hopes that they might find a better life. Because of their age, unaccompanied minors are easy prey for human traffickers. That is why the Forum on Sustainable Child Empowerment (FSCE) aims to protect them from further sexual and labour - exploitation, homelessness and sometimes, death.
- Publication date
- 5 July 2018
- Region and Country
- Regional Horn of AfricaEthiopia