(Panafrican News Agency (PANA), Lome, Togo, May 2, 2001)
The Etireno, a ship whose odyssey ended on 17 April in Cotonou, Benin, was carrying victims of child trafficking, including eight Togolese children, an official said in Bamako.
The director of family protection and promotion in Togo, Suzanne Aho, who visited Cotonou to get further information on the children on board the vessel, said 23 children between three and 14 years from Benin, Mali and Togo were found on board.
She added that their mothers accompanied some of the children, while others were entrusted to acquaintances or relatives.
According to her, most of the children said they were bound for Gabon in search of a better life and economic opportunity.
She said the ship was carrying illegal immigrants and victims of child trafficking.
Aho also noted that the Togolese children were expected this week in Lome, where they will be put to the care of Terre des Hommes-Togo, before a probe is done to trace their parents.
Meanwhile, she announced that Togo and Benin would sign a memorandum of understanding on child trafficking at a two-day meeting this month in Lome.