Sierra Leone has faced high levels of poverty, joblessness, and violence in recent years. All of these factors create a prime environment for traffickers promising a way out.
“More than half of the youth population is unemployed so when an exciting offer, especially to go abroad, is presented, most young people seize it, often without checking its authenticity,” explained Sanusi Savage, Head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) office in Sierra Leone.
“Young people’s desperation in the face of hardship often blinds them to the scams that permeate the recruitment sector.”
With this in mind, Sierra Leone recently formed a national network of 27 journalists committed to reporting on human trafficking aimed at raising awareness of the crime.
Africa News reports:
Traffickers recruit boys and girls as young as nine years old from rural provinces to urban and mining centres for exploitation in sex trafficking and forced labour in domestic service, artisanal diamond and granite mining, petty trading, rock quarrying, street crime, and begging.
Through radio broadcasts, the network will contribute to educate Sierra Leoneans on the identification of fake job offers, and report suspected cases of trafficking to the national anti-trafficking task force.
The establishment of the network is the result of a three-day (5-7 March) workshop on Communication for Development (C4D) during which 27 Sierra Leonean radio journalists debated on the best practices to reporting and raising awareness on trafficking in persons in Sierra Leone.
“This is a first step towards what we hope will be a long-term strategy to help Sierra Leoneans better understand the dangers of trafficking in persons,” said Mohamed Sajuma of Radio Mojcar.
Many young women from Sierra Leone have also been trafficked to the Gulf by bogus recruitment agencies, abused through forced labor or sexual exploitation.
The journalist network is currently focusing on a seven-episode radio series to raise awareness on domestic and transnational trafficking, including steps for reporting suspected cases.
“This is the first time that such a network is established in Sierra Leone,” said Margaret Mansaray from Radio Bintumani, a community radio located in Kabala in Northern Sierra Leone.
“I hope that it will be a place where we can learn from each other, and that it will foster good journalistic practices with regard to trafficking in persons in Sierra Leone.”