By George  Egeh

Ghana – Human trafficking is one of the largest heinous trades in the world after drugs; it has a serious effect and can cripple national development.

According to the UNODC report on human trafficking compiled in 155 countries, the report indicates that the most common purpose for human trafficking is for sexual exploitation globally followed by forced labor and others.

In recent years, it has become crystal clear that, Ghana is a source, transit and a destination country for victims of trafficking who are subjected to forced labor and sexual exploitation.

The exploitation of children within the country for labour activities such as fishing, domestic service, street hawking, begging, pottering (Kayayei), illegal mining – ‘galamsey, stone quarrying and cattle herding are among human degrading activities that people especially children are subjected to.

It’s against this backdrop that the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) recently launched a data collection exercise in Ho the Volta regional capital, to combat the menace of human trafficking in the country.

It appears that these selected regions have had high cases of human trafficking. The exercise was initiated to help policy makers acquire first hand information on human trafficking activities as a way of propelling them into taking decisions that can help combat the menace.

Cross Section of Law Enforcement Agents Photo Credit: George Egeh

The project which started in the Volta Region recently, will also be done in the central region and lastly the Greater Accra region. The project is focused on equipping men and women of the police service, anti – human trafficking department, immigration and the attorney generals department with information on how to gather the right data when cases of human trafficking are investigated and perpetrators apprehended.

Amongst others, the exercise is to help officers avoid issues of double counting where there is a joint task force on a singular operation; this according to Alexander Billings project manager (IOM) is to help collect accurate data.

IOM has been active in Ghana since 1987 and has contributed to the Government of Ghana’s efforts to manage migration effectively through a wide variety of projects and programmes. The organization’s main office is in Accra with sub-offices located in Accra, Brong Ahafo Region – Nkoranza, and Northern Region – Tamale. IOM activities are implemented in all 10 Regions of Ghana.

IOM Accra started its programmes by supporting the institutional capacity-building needs within the country through Phase Two of the Return of Qualified African Nationals (RQAN II) programme (1988-92). This programme facilitated the return of highly qualified African nationals including Ghanaians residing in the Diaspora to contribute to the socio-economic development of Ghana by returning home to take up key positions in priority sectors including health, education, economics, finance, public service, and political administration.

Since then, the office has grown to address a variety of migration management needs.

During the past 10 years, IOM Accra has been involved in migrant resettlement (refugees) and the movement of various migrants for family reunification and other opportunities to various countries throughout the world.

Other IOM Accra activities include migration policy development, labor migration, migration and development, combating human-trafficking, assisted voluntary returns, border management, information campaigns on the risks and realities of migration, and humanitarian and emergency response.