By Judy Ndunge and Collins Omondi
Trafficking children for labour and using them as drugs and weapons mules are the most common forms of child trafficking in Kibra, a stakeholders meeting was told.
Security officials in the area said they have beefed up surveillance to ensure that children are protected, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic when most of them are at home. The meeting, held recently, brought together security officials, civil society organisation led by African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), Plan international, Amani Kibra, Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (Creaw International) and religious leaders.
Asia Suleiman, the assistant Chief Kibra Sub location highlighted cases of children being used to peddle drugs and illegal firearms while in school. “There have been cases of where children are used to sell drugs in school, transport weapons and even recruit fellow students to their gangs. Some of the children are trafficked from Uganda and Tanzania for the same purpose,” she said.
Areas such as Lindi, Kambi Muru, Silanga and Nyumba Kubwa are among areas in Kibra that were identified as child trafficking hotspots in the expansive informal settlement. The security officers said they had dismantled a child trafficking network in the area that recruited, transported and harboured the children before they were delivered to their final destination.
Nehemiah Amwocha, Assistant Chief Gatwekera said the vicious cycle cannot be broken until the root cause of the problem–parental neglect– is addressed.
“Organisation should tailor their programmes towards advocating for positive parenting.When you empower the parent you will in turn empower the child and the school will do the remaining bit,” he said.
According to Counter Trafficking in Person Act of Kenya, child trafficking refers to the process of transporting, transferring, harbouring and receiving of children from one place to another. Dorcas Wambui, the legal officer for ANPPCAN) said there is need to educate law enforcement officers on how to identify victims of trafficking.
The objective of the forum was to identify gaps and challenges in handling cases of child trafficking in Kibra Sub-county area and share opportunities and best practices in order to improve prevention, protection and prosecution of child trafficking cases in the area. It was also meant to enhance partnership and coordination among agencies in prosecution of child trafficking cases in Kibra. Evan Munga the project Manager, ANPPCAN said that different perspective given on the matter would shed light on the child trafficking cases in the area and give way to solving the problem. The meeting was told other rampant cases in the area are child prostitution and identified gaps such as failure to follow-up on cases, lack of awareness on human trafficking as some of the weak links in the fight against the vice.
From the dialogue it was clearly indicated that there is still much to be done to ensure the safety of children living in areas such as Kibra .The solutions given apart from making sure every child goes to schools included doing better research on cases, organising outreaches to the hot spots areas for sensitisation, capacity building, supporting the local structure like the nyumba kumi and chiefs in provision of resources and having a post covid recovery sessions for children immediately after school are opened.
Mary Mbuga, County Director of Children’s Services said everyone has a responsibility when it comes to prevention of human trafficking.
“There are those that create a service but put a burden on others to respond, this is a call to everyone to be accountable for what happens in the society,” she said.