Nine trafficking victims have been rescued from Yeji in the Pru East District of the Bono East Region by the Ghana Police and Department of Social Welfare.
Four adult males and five boys were saved during the combined effort from being exploited on the Volta Lake section at Yeji.
The youngest of the five youngsters came less than a year ago, while two of the four adult victims were reportedly taken to labor on the lake at ages three and five, respectively, 20 years ago.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Tema after the rescue mission, Mr Kojo Owiredu Kissi, Coordinator, Media and Communications, International Justice Mission (IJM), an anti-human trafficking not-for-profit organization in Ghana, said an operation by the two institutions led to the rescue of the victims at Yeji.
He indicated that the rescue process was owned and led by government partners from the Ghana Police Service and Department of Social Welfare with technical and logistical support from IJM Ghana. Mr Kissi expressed heartfelt gratitude to the two institutions for their dedication and unflinching support towards ending human trafficking on the Volta Lake, adding that, “they must be commended because this rescue was successful due to their dedication and collaborative efforts and outstanding work.”
Mr Kissi said six of the victims have been reintegrated and are currently at home with their families where they would be supported to go back to school or undertake vocational skills while three of them were in a shelter home. He noted that the master, now a suspect, recruited the young children to work on the Lake for fishing. Mr Kissi said the suspect controlled every aspect of the lives of the children adding that they were not allowed to play or associate with anybody outside of the suspect’s family and would be punished violently if they did.
The children would be sent to more remote islands to ensure their isolation, he claimed, if anyone other than the suspect’s family attempted to interact with them. “If the children begin to develop relations with neighbors, they would be sent to more remote islands to ensure their isolation,” he said.
Mr. Kissi claimed that the only movement the kids were permitted to make was from the suspect’s residence to his boat, adding that they were in charge of both housework and lake fishing.
He said that it was determined that the victims were trafficked from the Volta and Bono Regions.