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An investigation into three cities off the coast of the African country warns that thousands of Ghanaian children are forced to work in the work of the sea.
Child labor and child trafficking in Ghana is a great tragedy. Few people know the problem, but its shores seem like a war zone, "notes the dossier of this Ubelong investigation. "Most of the children on the coast of Ghana work in very dangerous conditions in the fishing industry. They are deprived of their rights, and often are victims of physical abuse and sexual exploitation.
About 168 million children are forced to work. Whether by mafias, by family exploitation or by the simple exercise of surviving in a complicated environment. And this also means abandoning education, a fundamental right to "enjoy a social life and build their own future" according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by the United Nations High Commissioner in 1989. On the coast of Ghana , These numbers become visible: the traffic of minors to enroll them in fishing can be recorded daily.

It is what they have done in Ubelong . This Washington-based NGO has toured three cities on the coast of Ghana -Senya, Fetteh and Nyanyano - to show the conditions of thousands of children in this sub-Saharan African country. The director of the project, the Spanish Raul Roman, tells how boats with children are seen every day collecting nets or swimming to place them from dawn to sunset. "They work without stopping. They only rest at night, "he says. Both in this stretch of the Atlantic and Lake Volta - a space of 8,500 square kilometers (the approximate size of the province of Almeria) formed from the construction of the Akosombo dam in 1965 - species such as squid, Tuna or swordfish are the main source of income. And they involve all members of the family.

"Men form the fleet. Women clean and sell. And children start working from a very early age. Either helping mothers or entering the water and gambling their lives by putting or unraveling nets. Many are sold to fishing equipment for less than 15 euros and support conditions of semi-slavery, "he adds. "There are laws, there are police, but not a finger. Do not complain and prime your eyes. " The problem has not played a major role either in the last general elections held last December.

Impunity, coupled with the "whiting whiting" of shearing fish stocks while requiring more labor to explore new land, leads to two unresolved disasters: the environmental impact and educational deterioration of the younger generation . After five decades of massive export of fish, by 2016 Ghana had to invest up to 135 million dollars in importing this food. The blame, according to a statement commemorating the Sustainable Development Objectives, the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Sherry Arieetey, is divided between pollution, overexploitation and climate change.

The transfer of people from the countryside to the cities created around new coastal centers or the largest reservoir in the world has also provoked a new social order. Families - in many cases from the capital, Accra - have surrendered to the fish market in the face of agriculture or services. Even from Ubelong they relate moments of tension even when one of the children is not chosen to go out to work. "There are currently 49,000 children working on Lake Volta boats," said Eric Opoku Agyemang in a recent speech by the American media Daily Collegian .

"Child labor and child trafficking in Ghana is a great tragedy. Few people know the problem, but its shores seem like a war zone, "notes the dossier of this Ubelong investigation. "Most of the children on the coast of Ghana work in very dangerous conditions in the fishing industry. They are deprived of their rights, and often are victims of physical abuse and sexual exploitation. The latest official data estimates that 1.5 million Ghanaian children are working to help their families. " Two out of ten.

Government statistics on child labor and child trafficking, as well as annual reports from the US State Department and the World Labor Organization outline an inaccurate picture of the situation, Ubelong added. In those three communities they visited, they estimate that there are about 12,000 children working in very dangerous conditions. "Only in Senya, 80% of the children have been trafficked to the city of Yeji, where they live as slaves." A conjuncture extrapolable to the rest of the fishing corners of a nation with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that chains two years of decline and 45% of the population below the poverty line .

More than 100 hours of interviews with 54 people, a year of preparation and six years on the ground have resulted in a "sample of faces and voices" such as Joe and Kwame, aged 10 and 12: "Our master in Yeji was not a good person.Sometimes he used a paddle to hit us. Other times we were forced to dive to untangle the nets, and it hit us. Only gave us food once a day, "they report after being released and welcomed by a community of fishermen. Their testimony and their image put a face to those millions of victims who are still forced to work from an early age. * Source by: ALBERTO G. PALOMO


 


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