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Cablegate: Mali Intercepts 26 Trafficked Children in Kita

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R 010715Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAMAKO
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UNCLAS BAMAKO 000313

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DEPT FOR G/TIP ZEITLIN
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB KCRM KFRD KWMN PHUM PREF SMIG ASEC ML
SUBJECT: MALI INTERCEPTS 26 TRAFFICKED CHILDREN IN KITA

1. On March 12 police in the western town of Kita
intercepted 26 children who were trafficked to Kita from
towns along the Guinea-Mali frontier. The children ranged in
age from 6 to 17. Two of the children were Malian, and the
rest Guinean nationals. Four suspects are currently under
arrest in Kita. Alou Barry, who directs Mali's
anti-trafficking efforts from within the Ministry for the
Promotion of Women, Children and Families (MPFEF), said he
expected the four individuals to be tried shortly.

2. The two Malian children were returned to their families.
The remaining 24 Guinean children spent the nights of March
12-13 in a transit center in Kita run by the NGO Caritas
before being transferred to Bamako. Malian and Guinean
authorities repatriated them to the Guinean town of Siguri on
March 29.

3. Police have not revealed the names of the suspected
traffickers now in custody. One of the four individuals is a
marabout. It is not uncommon for poor families in rural
areas to entrust children to the care of self-described
marabouts who in turn promise to provide a semblance of
Koranic education. Many of these children, who are often
under the age of ten, are subsequently transported to distant
locations and forced to work in fields or beg on the streets.
A 2005 UNICEF study of Koranic schools in the Malian town of
Mopti found that children attending these schools spent the
majority of their time begging or working in fields.

4. Alou Barry credited a January 17-19, 2008, anti-TIP
conference for Malian and Guinean officials in Kankan,
Guinea, with reinforcing the communication links between
Malian and Guinean authorities that helped police in Kita
close in on the four suspected traffickers. He also said the
Kita police relied on 2007 anti-TIP training provided by NGOs
and the Malian government to rapidly determine that the
marabout and his accomplices lacked required parental
authorizations and other documents which would have enabled
them to legally travel with the group of children.
LEONARD

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