There's so much happening very quickly... I'm going to do some flying in the area of the airport today to verify the topography for mapping out a GPS arrival to the airport.
More later... SEE MORE PICTURES HERE
Gabon grapples with fight against child trafficking
By Ren Yaqiu
LIBREVILLE, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Whereas the entire humanity was on Friday marking the 20th anniversary of the convention on children's rights, in Gabon, a number of children, illegally brought into the country from West Africa, continue to be exploited by the West African nationals living in Gabon.
Child trafficking and exploitation dates back to the 1970s. Because of its small population, Gabon was in need of workers from abroad for construction and other projects. Massive entry to Gabon was reported during the period from Togo, Benin and Nigeria in search for employment.
The years that followed saw a lot of prosperity for these immigrants who discovered a country where some sectors were abandoned by the local population who had been changed by the easy gains from the enormous oil revenues.
Very quickly, these immigrants started bringing into Gabon children to do tasks which are traditionally reserved for adults.
In the subsequent years, it was children who roamed the roads of the capital as well as the major urban centers of the country with a basin full of merchandise on the head. Under the rain or under other bad tropical weather, these modern day slaves could be seen running behind clients because in the evening they were to return to the house with some good profits for their masters.
The opposite was fatal for the child. He was beaten in public, sometimes burned by an iron bar or put in the sun in order to make him commercially more aggressive. Many of these children were selling in markets. The young girls prepared cakes and other candies.
In 2000, a boat called Etireno was found carrying tens of children sounding the alarm of trafficking, which had been going on for years. The international community was mobilized against this trafficking and exploitation of children.
Symposia and seminars were held one after another in Gabon. The country adopted in 2004 a repressive law against child traffickers and exploiters who enslaved them.
"Thanks to this law, we have recently repatriated to Benin and Togo close to 300 children," affirmed Nyalendo, one of the Gabonese experts in charge of the issue.
The Gabonese police organized "abductions" in markets, streets and even in homes. This was "a necessary evil," said Baba Apoujac, president of an NGO called Iledo ("help us" in a Togolese language). This Togolese who is approaching fifties has participated in the fight against trafficking.
"Since then, we no longer see children working in markets or on the streets," he said, noting that "the phenomenon has not been completely eradicated."
"Children are still being exploited, abused and martyrized in homes," he said.
"Before, they were in the streets and they could gaze upon the universe and talk to the passers-bye. But now, they are enclosed within the homes and scared of ever being seen. They work hard and suffer seriously," the administrator of a home for children in difficulties "arc-en-ciel", Theo disclosed.
A number of children taking refuge in this center came because they escaped or due to police actions.
In the circle of child exploitation and trafficking, Gabon has the status of a receiving country. The children come from Togo, Benin and Nigeria. They are sold at a low price, but in the hope of getting a better life. They are transported in canoes or boats which are not fit for human transportation. The very last such occurrence was on Oct. 18, when a boat was spotted along Gabon's coast, carrying more than 200 adults and 34 children."This is an irrefutable proof that this shameful trade in children is still going on," Apoujac concluded.