By Kruah Thompson
The Labor Minister Cllr. Charles Gibson reveals that the Government of Liberia has made available US$50,000 to repatriate Liberians who were reportedly trafficked to Cyprus, Oman, and Dubai under the pretext of furthering their education.
According to Minister Gibson, the first batch of trafficked students encompasses three females from Oman, who are expected to arrive in the country today, February 18, 2022, adding that when these three girls arrive in the country, “They will be the ones to explain their own story.”
Speaking at the Ministry of Information’s regular briefing on Thursday, February 17, 2022, the minister noted that many of those students, who are expected to be repatriated from Dubai, Cyprus and Oman are facing serious difficulties at the hands of their employers and their various agents that facilitated their going.
He explains that the students offered everything to both their schools and agents before leaving here, but when they arrived in Cyprus, it became difficult for them to enroll in the institutions they have applied.
On the other hand, he further narrates that before leaving Liberia, the students were asked by their agents to pay half of their tuition along with other requirement fees which would have enabled them to enroll upon arrival.
“It is criminal to encourage someone who is in desperate need of employment, to go to a foreign country and then you ill-treat them, molest them and take away all their pride to the extent that they become nothing, desperate for a living”, Minister Gibson laments.
He says currently, the ministry of labor is investigating two other pastors, who according to investigation, transferred a group of Liberians to Oman from their local churches in Liberia.
“I’m told that these pastors allegedly collected money from some unidentified individuals in Oman to traffic people under the pretext of helping them to further their education”, he reveals.
He details that the investigation uncovered that the pastors yet to be identified, allegedly trafficked 35 students from Liberia and it is now government’s responsibility to bring the victims back home.
Cllr. Gibson says based on this, the ministry of labor has employed the services of 10 local NGOs operating in all 15 counties of Liberia to carry out vigorous awareness campaigns in various communities to deter citizens from falling prey to traffickers.
Meanwhile, the labor boss also discloses that member countries of the Mano River Union have discussed and agreed to convene a special subregional summit on human trafficking in Monrovia, Liberia.
He says the summit seeks to achieve a five-year budget that will be used to fight human trafficking in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast, respectively.
Minister Gibson says an amount of 60 million United States Dollars is needed from the international community in order to draft the five-year budget which will be used to fight the crime across the four MRU countries.
He also reveals that the International Organization on Migration and the Mano River Union Secretariat have already started preparatory processes for the pending summit in Liberia, though he did not disclose a specific date.