LIBERIA: Health Ministry Shuts Down ‘Illegal’ Orphanages

As part of measures to fight human trafficking in the country the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has clamped down on the proliferation of orphanages in the country.

According to the five-year National Action Plan on the Fight against Human Trafficking, especially women and children from 2013 to 2018, the Health Ministry has closed a number of sub-standard and illegal orphanages operating in the country.

The total number of orphanages recorded by the Ministry, which rose to 114 with about 42 in Montserrado County alone, has been drastically reduced to 82, the plan revealed.

According to the Plan, the policy of the Government to shut down the affected orphanages ranged from the violation of the basic human rights of children in those orphanages to illegal recruitment and subsequent trafficking of these children.

It said most of the disbanded orphanages did illegal recruitment of children, subjected affected children to domestic services that included farm and construction work, representing gross violation of the Ministry of Health’s policy guidelines of child abuse, the report further disclosed.

The US State Department 2012-2013 Global Assessment of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report confirmed that Liberia faces a challenge with human trafficking in various forms, such as sex trafficking of girls and women, forced labor of children in diamond and gold mines, street vending, orphanages, and homes as involuntary domestic servants.

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