At the age of 15 and with no money for school shoes or a uniform, Linda* was forced to accept that her education was over and it was time to look for a job.

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Forced child labour remains rampant in Central Africa, where poverty fuels the trafficking of children from poorer countries to oil-rich states such as Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo, according to experts.

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Amina Shakir (not her real name) fled the drought and famine in Somalia for a better life in Kenya. But she did so illegally, placing her faith in the hands of a criminal network headed by Mukhalis or agents in Swahili. In the end her faith was misplaced as she was "sold" into employment upon finally reaching Kenya.

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Cabinet has started probing an alleged child-trafficking syndicate that involves several European countries and some self-styled social welfare organisations in Namibia.

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The governments of the Republic of Congo and Benin have signed a land mark agreement to protect children from child trafficking, which in recent years has become a major problem in the Congo.

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"Staying in a border town is a horrible experience for children who have lost both parents and are living in poverty. "There are too many nightclubs and bars and as such girls as young as 14 years are forced to engage in different activities that include prostitution and drug abuse.

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Child Trafficking in the Eastern part of Nigeria is a lucrative trade. In Nigeria, human trafficking ranks the third most common crime after financial fraud and drug trafficking. At least 10 children are sold every day across the country, according to the UN. Globally, the traffickers earn $33 billion yearly.

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South Africa has been identified as a major human-trafficking destination for victims from within the country, the region and beyond, yet there is no legislation that specifically criminalises human trafficking and protects victims.

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Last year, a local television station unearthed a syndicate where unscrupulous individuals were taking advantage of a group of disabled children.

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It’s 8pm in Mtwapa and nightlife is beginning to kick in. Young girls, who spend more than half their day sleeping and the other half doing themselves up are beginning to stream into the streets, looking for “eager” clients, preferably foreigners. Many are barely dressed and those who are have pasted themselves into skin-tight frocks and skirts that leave nothing much to the imagination. What fascinates me are the faces these girls wear – hardened, jaded, and reckless.

Published in News in English
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