The U.S. Department of State placed the Republic of Cameroon on the Tier 2 Watch List because it is making efforts to eliminate trafficking and protect individuals, but has not fully met the standards that the U.S. Department of State has set. Up to the present, Cameroon has made progress by convicting more traffickers, identifying and referring victims of trafficking to services, and providing repatriation assistance for foreign trafficking victims. Obstacles including terrorist organizations such as Boko Haram have increased the difficulty for nations such as Cameroon to address human trafficking as they contribute to the issue. Here are five facts to know about human trafficking in Cameroon.
5 Facts About Human Trafficking in Cameroon
- The Trafficking of Children Remains an Issue: Human trafficking in Cameroon involves children. Through the Ministry of Social Affairs (MINAS), Cameroon was able to identify 1,147 street children vulnerable to trafficking in 2019 in comparison to the 877 children in 2018. Child trafficking victims often work on agricultural plantations where they do not receive compensation. According to a study done in 2012 that the Cameroonian government partially prepared, between 600,000 and 3 million children were victims of human trafficking. These children often must travel vast distances, forever experiencing separation from their families. Many times, when the children become old enough to resist coercion, traffickers deport them out of Cameroon.
- The Government has Increased its Efforts to Protect Victims: In 2019, government officials in Cameroon identified 77 potential human trafficking victims, which is an increase from 2018 when they identified 62 potential human trafficking victims. The government, along with other private centers that receive funding from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continue to provide services for minors and vulnerable children who are at risk of becoming trafficking victims. All individuals including children who Cameroon’s government officials identified as human trafficking victims received care. These services offer food, shelter, vocational training, education, medical and psychological care and family tracing.
- Cameroon has Committed Itself to Addressing Boko Haram: Since 2014, Boko Haram has participated in transnational human trafficking across Western Africa, including in Cameroon. Throughout the past several years, Boko Haram has continued to target and traffic women and children within Cameroon. As Boko Haram threatens Cameroon and other neighboring states, Cameroon has committed itself to lead tireless combat against Boko Haram with no impunity for those responsible for the attacks. Specifically, Cameroon deployed two military operations in 2014 including Operation EMERGENCE 4 and Operation ALPHA to combat Boko Haram. Both operations continue to work towards fighting Boko Haram and eliminating transnational human trafficking.
- Funding Remains an Issue: The lack of funding within Cameroon continues to impede the government’s implementation of its anti-trafficking national action plan. No one knows the exact amount that currently goes toward Cameroon’s anti-trafficking national action plan and the amount of money necessary to properly implement it, as the government has not disclosed it to the public. Unfortunately, because funding has limitations within Cameroon, the country has cut many training programs that aim to educate law enforcement to detect situations of trafficking. The lack of funding limits the amount of research that the country can do with regards to human trafficking while also limiting the amount of aid and resources that it can provide to victims of human trafficking.
- Cameroon Maintains its Efforts to Prevent Human Trafficking: MINAS continues to inform Cameroonians about trafficking indicators through public awareness campaigns. In 2019, the government provided 2,864 informational sessions addressing human trafficking indicators and providing ways to help prevent human trafficking to Cameroonians. These 2019 informational sessions reached 397,447 individuals compared to only 69,000 in 2018. Law enforcement’s and immigration officials’ screening efforts within Cameroon’s international airports prevented several potential human trafficking victims from experiencing exploitation over the past several years.
To address human trafficking in Cameroon, the nation has made efforts to focus on families, recognizing how families can often play a role in facilitating trafficking. Many impoverished families often must sell children, especially girls, into trafficking and are unable to protect the children and women from becoming trafficking victims. With assistance from the United Nations, Cameroon has continued to work towards eliminating trafficking by aligning its laws and regulations with international law to ensure that the trafficking of persons undergoes criminalization. Working closely with NGOs as well as intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) such as The Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Cameroon hopes to eliminate human trafficking and continues to prioritize it as a primary issue.
– Ariana Chin