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20,000 children trafficked for jobs, sex work

Counter Trafficking Advisory Committee chair Juliet Gachanja with Wambui Njuguna, the director of programs in African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) during the release of a reporton child trafficking

It is estimated that more than 20,000 children are trafficked annually in Kenya, the largest proportion being young girls less than 18 years of age.

This followed a report released by the African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN).

The study revealed that Busia has the highest cases of child trafficking and general human trafficking, being a prime entry and exit point.

The report based this on findings that the town is a prime entry and exit point for cross-border child trafficking.

Most of the girls trafficked through Busia are employed as house girls in Eldoret, Nakuru, Nairobi, and Mombasa.

"It is also a source of many trafficked girls mainly from the Luhya community," Wambui Njuguna, ANPPCAN programs director, said.

"Let's agree that many mothers and women in Nairobi prefer employing a Luhya house help following a belief that they are hard working."

According to Wambui, the free flow of people within East African nations has increased the danger of child trafficking within the region.

"Since the EAC borders were opened, it became easier for perpetrators to traffic children across the countries," she said.

According to the report, 37 per cent of children living at the borders said they have been approached by perpetrators of child trafficking.

Of these, 60 per cent never shared with anyone as they did not know it was wrong to be trafficked, the report says.

Among the trafficked, 80 per cent were put into child labour, 13 per cent into prostitution while 17 per cent were trafficked for child marriage.

The report noted a high number of child trafficking in Mandera, Marsabit, and Nairobi.

In Mandera, most children are trafficked internally with the major identified route being Mandera-Wajir-Garissa-Nairobi.
Boys are the most targeted in Mandera and end up in slaughter houses in Nairobi.
"Countries of origin include Somalia/Dolo, Ethiopia, and Yemen while the countries of destination include Southern Sudan, Libya, and Europe," the report says.
Busia, Moyale, and Mandera are among the top routes for the transit of children within Kenya and from other countries.
Reports from national crime research centre on human trafficking indicate that 58.4% per cent of children trafficked go through Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Mwingi, Nairobi and Loitoktok to Tanzania for onward transit to South Africa.
This is followed by Moyale, Isiolo, Meru, Nairobi, Namanga to Tanzania at 47.8 percent and Busia, Kakamega, Kisumu, Nairobi and Mombasa at 45.2 per cent.
Nyambura Gachanja, chairperson of the advisory committee on counter trafficking in persons, warned perpetrators that they will be fined Sh 30 million and/or 30 years in prison.
"Children belong to school and if you are caught employing a child below 18 years, you will be arrested and prosecuted," she said.
Rising cases of child trafficking were blamed on poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and terrorism.
There is, however, a small percentage of people who traffic for begging purposes.
"This affects disabled children who perpetrators use for their gain by placing such children on the streets to beg," Wambui said.

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