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Benin, UNICEF confirm child trafficking aboard ship in West Africa

Benin, UNICEF confirm child trafficking aboard ship in West Africa

The Government of Benin and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today confirmed that the suspected slaveship that docked in Cotonou on 17 April was in fact used for child trafficking.

Preliminary findings in the Government's ongoing investigation have revealed that five of the 43 children aboard the Etireno said that some sort of financial transaction had taken place between their families and an intermediary, while another eight children were travelling with an unknown person, according to a joint statement issued by the UNICEF country office in Benin, the Government of Benin, and the non-governmental organization Terre des Hommes, which interviewed the children.

"At the current stage of information collection, it can be confirmed that the issue of the Etireno ship indeed falls within the framework of sub-regional trafficking in minors and of a network of clandestine work, against which the Government of Benin, in cooperation with UNICEF and other partners, is waging a war without mercy," the statement says.

Of the 43 children on board the ship, 13 were from Benin, 8 from Togo, 17 from Mali, one from Senegal and one from Guinea.

The Government of Benin is appealing to the international community for assistance in tackling the problem of child trafficking, which it calls "a product of poverty and under-development."