Mr. Enoch Teye Mensah, Minister of Employment and Social Welfare in Ghana, stated that it was going to take cooperation across borders and governmental sectors to address issues such as child trafficking, child labour, and ensuring the rights of girls in West Africa.
The WAN network was established under the Research and Counselling Foundation for African Migrants (RECFAM) based in Ghana.
The theme of the network launch was “Protecting the Child- Everybody’s Business”, and stressed the need for collective responsibility from government, civil society, local government and the community as a whole towards the protection of children’s basic rights.
The foundation of the network was research on how to protect child migrants across West Africa, and the realization that children and youth on the move between borders were already suffering from poverty and a lack of access to basic services such as security, health and education. Therefore, the launch of WAN was an added effort to promote safe migration as a tool for development and protection for vulnerable children.
Ghana has taken positive steps toward the rights and wellbeing of children through legislation, policies and initiatives such as the ratifying the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Ghana has been able to adopt the Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, and has now finalized its own National Plan of Action (NPA) for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour by 2015.
Mr. Mensah stated that the development of the NPA was a rare collaborative effort of all stakeholders in the fight against child labour and could act as a model for the WAN, adding “At the end of the process, national ownership was evident through the participation of government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) including metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, workers, employers’ organizations and civil society groups including the Ghanaian media.”
Mr. Alfred Mbinglo, WAN-Ghana Coordinator, explained that the vision was to establish cooperation among all 15 Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Member countries to harmonization procedures, standards and common methodology of intervention. The WAN was also designed to strengthen local and international cooperation to support displaced young individuals who were in difficult situations in another country far from their home and families.
The WAN had so far integrated over 1,700 migrant children into family-based care settings, while at the same time providing youth project with schooling, vocational training or income generating activities with a two-year follow-up programme to track the progress of the youth.