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Homeless children easy target for traffickers
The 2012 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report produced by the US Department of State identifies local homeless children and children from difficult family situations as being at high risk for sex trafficking and forced criminal activity. Chissey Muller, project manager of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), says statistics on trafficking are difficult to generate and usually only portray a small portion of actual cases.
The IOM, an inter-governmental organisation with 146 member states, monitors and advocates for humane migration practices. Since T&T became a member state in 2009, the group has dealt with only one human-trafficking case involving a minor. Muller said the case involved a young boy from another Caricom country.
Gregory Sloane-Seale, programme co-ordinator of the Citizen Security Programme, said he has heard many reports of homeless children becoming victims of trafficking, but has seen no concrete evidence to support these claims. He believes street children are more susceptible to trafficking, however.
“All of the research available does point to street children being in one of the most vulnerable groups, and definitely more so than children in homes and with families, by virtue of them being off the radar and not in school or formal employment.” Sloane-Seale said improved social-outreach programmes, professional social-outreach workers, community family-support systems and a greater awareness of the issues and surveillance of border points are necessary.