Who is IOM? What is the relationship between BTCTE and IOM?IOM, the International Organization for Migration, is BTCTE’s field partner. We rely on the IOM office in Accra, Ghana to oversee and carry out all our work in Ghana. IOM is an international intergovernmental organization with over 460 offices worldwide. It was established in 1951 and works on both humanitarian and developmental issues related to migration. Projects are focused on areas such as counter-trafficking, refugee resettlement, migration health, labor migration, assisted voluntary return, diaspora engagement, etc. Within Ghana, IOM has been operating for over 25 years and has over 10 years of experience in the rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficked children. In 2007, BTCTE started partnering with IOM on assisting trafficked children in the Lake Volta Region. BTCTE, in consultation with IOM, decides on an anti-trafficking project. IOM assesses the cost and feasibility of the project, and BTCTE and IOM map out a detailed plan together. BTCTE funds the project, and IOM implements it and provides the oversight. BTCTE and IOM are in constant contact and make joint decisions until the project’s completion. Members of BTCTE travel to Ghana at least once a year to oversee the progress of our projects and to conceive of new ones
How does BTCTE monitor the funds sent to IOM?IOM follows global accounting principles and has well-developed accounting systems based on International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Furthermore, their work is governed by IOM’s global financial system, its Member States (151 governments/countries), and the external auditor – currently the Auditor General of India – which is an elected position and changes every four years. Every activity in IOM is assigned a distinct project code. Every project is managed by a project manager to ensure that projects are monitored in a responsible, transparent and efficient manner. Each month project managers receive a financial summary to ensure they are keeping in line with approved budgets. BTCTE receives ongoing updates from IOM about the projects and is in regular contact with its IOM project manager to obtain input, and give direction, on the expenditure of funds. In addition, we monitor our financial progress during our annual visits to Ghana.
What is the relationship between IOM, BTCTE and UNICEF?UNICEF is a major, global child protection organization. UNICEF and IOM work closely together to address the issue of child trafficking and other forms of child protection violations in Ghana. Currently, UNICEF and IOM are partnering to develop a child trafficking/protection toolkit to be rolled out in communities that focuses on prevention and protection. We are currently piloting this project in six communities. BTCTE plans to work with villages that receive UNICEF’s toolkit. We will rescue and return the children who were previously trafficked from those villages. We expect that this will lead to even greater success because these villages will have been educated about trafficking. Furthermore, since the children reside in the same villages, we can more carefully monitor and support their reintegration into their communities. BTCTE will continue to work closely with IOM to ensure that the children thrive and attend school. BTCTE has recently funded a social worker, employed within the auspices of IOM, to work with formerly trafficked children.
What kind of written reporting is made available to BTCTE?BTCTE receives line-item expense vouchers from IOM for each project we undertake. We receive frequent and detailed updates about each project along with photographs. The new counter-trafficking social worker will provide BTCTE with quarterly updates about the well-being of the 40 children we have pledged to care for.
How is it determined which children will be rescued?IOM identifies children trafficked children in the Lake Volta region who are involved in the worst forms of child labor. As IOM is not a law enforcement agency and cannot enforce the law, careful negotiation must occur between IOM staff and the fisherman to release the children. This ensures the sustainability of the rescue. Thus, to determine which children to rescue, IOM takes into account which children are in greatest need as well as which children are most viable in terms of the negotiation process. In some cases, IOM and BTCTE jointly decide which children to rescue. For example, in 2011, the two organizations negotiated for the release of all trafficked children from the village of Awate Tornu in exchange for the construction of a school. Future efforts will target villages that have received the UNICEF toolkit.
How do you follow up with the children and their families to ensure they are stable and will not be forced to return to a life of trafficking?The rescued children are provided with medical and psychosocial support and then reunited with their families. They are provided with reintegration assistance, including access to education, counseling and/or apprenticeships for them and their families. In some cases, micro-business assistance is also provided. Each rescued child is monitored for a minimum period of 2.5 years to track his or her progress and possibly address any reintegration needs (food, school supplies, etc). IOM further provides capacity-building trainings to local and national government officials to ensure awareness of national and international human trafficking legislation and to encourage the prosecution of trafficking offenders. BTCTE employs its own social worker to work with formerly trafficked children. BTCTE and IOM are creating a sponsorship program in which donors can choose to sponsor, or support, a particular child who was previously trafficked. The donor will provide financial support, and the social worker will supply updates on how the child is functioning. The responsibilities of the counter-trafficking social worker include:
- Providing counseling to formerly trafficked children and families affected by child trafficking within their communities;
- Drafting reports on sponsored children, including progress on children, photos, drawings, and other relevant information;
- Organizing files and data on donor sponsored children;
- Maintaining a strong liaison among IOM, BTCTE and national partners.