Children’s Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
THE lack of available and affordable opportunities for tertiary education in most developing countries has provided a loophole for human traffickers, who have taken advantage of the lapse to offer attractive conditions to desperate people, especially the youth.
The scam unearthed by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), where human traffickers are offering fake scholarships to unsuspecting school-leavers should not be taken lightly.
As a result of this, IOM has launched the ‘Know before you accept’ campaign to sensitise school-leavers and the general public about the importance of verifying credentials of education institutions before committing to study with them.
Human trafficking can distress any group of people; men, women and children; however, the marginalised and vulnerable are usually the target and high-risk groups. For Zambia, human traffickers have taken advantage of the desire by the youth, who are clamouring to further their education with the hope of securing a comfortable and successful future. With rising unemployment and poverty levels, Zambia has proved to be a fertile ground for perpetrators of the vice which is akin to modern day slavery.
According to the United Nations, human trafficking refers to the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons using illegal means such as force, abduction, fraud or coercion. Once victims are removed from their families or comfort zones, they are used for sexual exploitation, prostitution, forced labour and many other vices.
Human trafficking does not only abuse the rights of victims, break down families and communities, but also deprives countries like Zambia of the much needed human capital, undermines public health and creates opportunities for criminal elements to thrive.
It is of utmost importance for would-be students to intensely scrutinise foreign scholarships regardless of how attractive the offers might seem before committing to study.
Those wishing to study abroad should be wary of the adage ‘not all that glitters is gold’, which holds truth because there’s is always a catch. It is worth noting that once a victim is under the clutches of human traffickers, it is almost impossible to get out because of the stiff conditions these modern Shylocks demand in order to release their ‘cash cow’.
IOM national project officer, Bertha Nguvulu explained that with the advent of internet age, human traffickers have become more sophisticated. They have the ability to use credible universities and organisations to entice their victims. With the various social media platforms available, personal data and information is now readily and easily available making anyone easy prey to the predators.
Human traffickers use illegally accessed information to offer scholarships to unsuspecting victims, who are later abducted and taken into slavery immediately they arrive in a foreign country.
IOM has software which can be used to scan and track scholarships to ascertain the authenticity of an advertiser or organisation. In as much as it is an attraction for young people, adults should endeavour to get involved from the beginning of the process for the safety of their children. The involvement of adults will prevent children from being caught-up with human traffickers, whose only motivation is to fatten their bank accounts regardless of who gets hurt, exploited or killed in the process. For human traffickers, it is about how much money they can mint from the vulnerabilities and naivety of others, especially young people.
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
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Children’s Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA