Thousands of Cameroonian children who fled the fighting in their country’s English-speaking regions are taking refuge in Adagom community in south-central Nigeria, where some have been exploited by people looking to take advantage of their vulnerability
Facebook on Monday shut down the account of a user, who used the social networking platform to advertise and market children as housemaids.
The move followed a report by SaharaReporters done by investigative journalist, Philip Obaji Jr., in December.
While investigating human trafficking in refugee and displaced persons, Obaji had come across a Facebook account owned by Stan Wantama, who offered three underaged girls to users of the platform as maids and encouraged interested persons to contact him privately for a bargain.
The investigation found that some of Wantama’s victims were Cameroonian nationals, who fled the fighting in their country’s English-speaking regions to refugee settlements in the Southern part of Nigeria province of Ogoja in Cross River State where he met and told their parents that he could help take their daughters to urban towns to serve as housemaids to families, who will sponsor their education and treat them nicely.
As indicated by the report, parents of the victims were unaware their daughters had to work for a monthly pay that mostly went to Wantama.
Although it took Facebook more than 24 hours to deactivate Wantama’s account during which time the trafficker gained more reactions to his posts from users of the platform, the tech company said it acted based on its zero tolerance for exploitation and that “any form of human trafficking – whether posts, pages, ads or groups is not allowed on Facebook, and will be removed when reported to us.”
Spokesperson for Facebook, Kezia Anim-Addo, in an email said, “We’d like to thank Sahara Reporters for bringing this to our attention.
“We have since removed the post and permanently disabled the account belonging to the user reported, due to various violations.
“We have standards and policies against publicising and promoting the smuggling of people and don’t allow organisations or individuals engaged in human trafficking or organised violence to maintain a presence on Facebook.”
Earlier, two non-profit organisations – Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, United Kingdom, and Centre for Children’s Health, Education, Orientation and Protection, Nigeria – criticised Facebook following the revelations in the report.
In a joint statement, the groups admonished Facebook to properly sift its platform to weed out all persons engaged in human trafficking.
SaharaReporters, New York