Uganda

Ugandan gov't to investigate children trafficking reports

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KAMPALA, Jun 19, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The Ugandan government is investigating reports that charitable organizations are trafficking children from its war-torn northern and north-eastern region.

State Minister for relief and disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru, was quoted by state-owned New Vision on Tuesday as saying that some non-government organizations (NGOs) promise children free education but instead take them to unknown destinations.

Ecweru revealed that the sponsors, who claim to be pastors, first take the children to schools in the central region before relocating them.

"A total of 41 children were intercepted at Busia as they were being taken to Kenya in March," he said.

The minister's revelation came after 11 stranded students from Teso in northeastern Uganda went to his office seeking help.

The members of Parliament of Katakwi district in eastern Uganda called upon the relevant authorities to investigate all NGOs operating in the northern region.

Meanwhile, Uganda is marked as one of the countries where children are trafficked to Europe for slavery and sexual abuse, according to a Britain-based charity.

The Africans Unite Against Child Abuse identified over 330 victims in Britain from Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Togo, Burundi and Guinea.

The charity stated that victims are subject to domestic servitude, prostitution, state benefit fraud and other forms of cheap and forced labor.

"Our children have become chattels used as slaves in foreign countries and not much is being done to address this," the charity' s director Debbie Ariyo said.

"Aside from the physical, sexual, psychological and emotional trauma, with little access to education, many victims are condemned to a lifetime of poverty and social exclusion," the charity noted.

"Since most victims are transported on false documents, they are unable to prove their real identities. This means after breaking away from their exploiters, they find it hard to legalize their status or secure paid employment," said Ariyo.