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"Trafficked" Sierra Leonean kids found in Liberia

  • Presidents Ernest Koroma (Koroma) Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Liberia)

By Kemo Cham
The Sierra Leone embassy in Monrovia says two children allegedly trafficked to Liberia after going missing from a government Safe House have been found.

The children, the subject of a cross-border trafficking investigation, were reported missing early this month. The home, which is operated by the Liberian Ministry of Children and Social Protection, provides temporary shelter for children in distressful situations such as domestic violence, rape and other sexual and gender-based violence, as well as those trafficked.

Reports say a syndicate involving citizens of Liberia and Sierra Leone orchestrated a deal to sell the two Sierra Leonean children who were shipped from Kenema in the east of their home country with each priced at US$15,000.

The mother of the children and her alleged female nurse accomplice, were reportedly busted by Liberian police in the heat of negotiations for the kids in the western Bomi County of Liberia. The women are said to be former convicts who apparently met in a Kenema prison where they discussed the scheme.

The Sierra Leone embassy in Monrovia had raised the alarm of the disappearance of the children from their safe house through the local Liberian press.

Mariama Coker, Press Attaché at the embassy, told Politico that the kids had now been located and were in safe hands. She said they were escorted by Liberian social welfare officials and presented to the embassy in the presence of officials among them the head of chancellery and the defence attaché.
Coker also said that the suspects were at present detained in Bomi County, awaiting trial.

The case is being treated as part of an international trafficking ring and it involves the international police organisation, Interpol.
Reports had earlier indicated that five Interpol agents from Sierra Leone, accompanied by the father of the kids and a social worker, travelled to Liberia over the issue. Coker said since the alleged crime was committed in Liberia, the Liberians had jurisdiction over the case.

“We are still engaging in diplomacy for further action but the fact remains that the children are protected and are safe,” she said.

Although it is rarely reported, cross border human trafficking is believed to be rife within the Mano River region, which comprises Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Ivory Coast. Porous borders and poor security mechanism are blamed for the presumed proliferation of the illegal activity which has also fuelled the vexed phenomenon of child labour.

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