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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                       

Gabonese Republic (Gabon)

Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most sub-Saharan African nations, but because of high income inequality, a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for more than 50% of GDP.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Gabon.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Information about Street Children - Gabon [DOC]

[Last access date unavailable]

[accessed 29 November 2016]

DEFINITIONS AND STATISTICS - In Gabon, we define street children quite simply as those who have chosen to leave their family / household and make their own way in the street. However, the distinction between children of the street and children on the street is still used by many organisations. Most of the street children are concentrated in Libreville and are boys between the ages of 6 and 17 who have abandoned both family life and their schooling. Numbers are small however – only 150 street children were recorded by Caritas during 2002-03.

TESTIMONY FROM A STREET CHILD IN GABON - I have been on the streets since 1997. My father was cruel to me – he would hit me and never let me leave the house, and this lack of freedom is why I left home… The older children in the street often bully the younger ones and steal our money. The police also harass and beat us, particularly when someone has reported a theft or when they catch us smoking marijuana. They often put us in prison cells where we are kept for 2 days and sometimes longer. Many children contract diseases such as scabies and sometimes malaria inside the dirty cells, but when we are released, we face further verbal abuse from the public.


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 6 February 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - According to the government, over 40 percent of students drop out before they complete the last year of primary school.

CHILD LABOR LAWS AND ENFORCEMENT - Minimum age laws were strictly enforced in urban areas among citizen children, but rarely enforced in rural areas.  While the Labor Code is intended to cover all children, in practice it is enforced only in situations involving Gabonese children, and not those who are foreign-born, many of whom work in domestic service or in marketplaces.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

CHILDREN - The government publicly expressed its commitment to youth, provided 4 thousand academic scholarships during the year, and used oil revenues to build schools, pay teacher salaries, and promote education, even in rural areas. Nonetheless, the upkeep of schools and payment of teachers continued to decline. Education is compulsory until age 16 and generally was available through sixth grade. Approximately 78 percent of primary school-age children attended school, and less than half of secondary school‑age children attended school. Secondary school attendance rates for immigrant children were lower, although public schools accepted immigrant children, and the government encouraged them to attend. Students were required to pay for books, uniforms, and other school supplies, which precluded numerous children from attending school.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] An unknown number of children‑‑primarily foreign‑‑worked in marketplaces or performed domestic duties; many of these children were reportedly the victims of child trafficking. Such children generally did not attend school, received only limited medical attention, and often were exploited by employers or foster families. Laws forbidding child labor theoretically extended protection to these children, but abuses often were not reported. A 2001 ILO study estimated that the number of economically active children between the ages of 10 and 14 years was 19 thousand to 20 thousand, but the actual number was probably considerably higher since most children worked in the informal sector.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1 February 2002

[accessed 6 February 2011]

[62] The Committee expresses its concerns at the increasing number of street children and at the lack of specific mechanisms and measures to address this situation and to provide those children with adequate assistance.

War is Boring: U.S. Navy Renders Aid to Gabonese Trafficking Victims

David Axe, World Politics Review, Libreville Gabon, 22 Apr 2009

[partially accessed 6 February 2011 - access restricted]

It's a crisis that intersects with another. Across Africa, but especially in the central part of the continent, boys are sold, coerced or kidnapped into military service in both government and rebel armies. Many of these child soldiers also flee their captors, especially during combat, and end up homeless on the streets of major cities, where aid groups struggle to find and care for them.   Children represent a major commodity in a dark economy of violence and exploitation that is perhaps most prominent in West and Central Africa.   Escudero described Gabon as an importer of child slaves, "either for cheap manual labor or to work in people's homes or factories. Often these kids win up on streets, if they've been abused at home or mistreated where they're working."

Gabonese students found NGO to cater for street children

Xinhua News Agency, May 22, 2007

[accessed 16 May 2011]

[accessed 29 November 2016]

Gabonese primary and secondary school students have launched a non-governmental organization, the Movement of the Young People for Social Welfare (MJBES) to primarily cater for street children, their education but more so their reintegration into the society, the local press reported Sunday.

In Gabon, the number of street children has reached worrying proportions. Very early in the morning, one can meet street children milling around the large markets where they generally spend the night. During the day, they beg in front of department stores and at bus stops.

Reports to Treaty Bodies - Committee on the Rights of the Child

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, January/February 2002 session

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 16 May 2011]

The Committee recommended that the government ensure that street children are provided with adequate nutrition, clothing, housing, health care and educational opportunities in support of their full development; ensure that these children are provided with recovery and reintegration services when victims of physical, sexual and substance abuse; ensure their protection against police brutality; provide services for reconciliation with their families and community; establish a comprehensive strategy to address the high and increasing number of street children with the aim of preventing and reducing this phenomenon.

Youth Is More Afraid Of Unemployment Than AIDS

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN PlusNews

[accessed 10 March 2015]

A survey of 15 to 26 year-olds showed that unemployment was their main concern in life, with catching AIDS in second place and poverty in third.  Meanwhile the state is faced with the challenge of looking after an estimated 9,000 orphans of people who have died from AIDS.  Government policy is to encourage extended families to take these children under their wing.

The Protection Project - Gabon [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Children are trafficked primarily for domestic labor,  as well as for work as street and market vendors.  The majority of children trafficked from Togo and Benin are girls, and most of the children coming from Nigeria are boys.  Traffickers taking children into Gabon commonly pose as their parents or caretakers.  Children are often taken to Gabon under the guise of going to school there. However, after arriving in Gabon, the children are denied any education and are forced to work for their “host” families. Then, when the anticipated date of graduation from the promised school approaches, the families accuse the children of stealing money and kick them out into the street. 

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