Posted on Fri, Jul. 09, 2010
last updated: July 09, 2010 07:07:12 AM
Haiti is still recovering from the January earthquake, but that doesn't mean efforts to protect children and adults from exploitation should stop.
That was the message from the U.S. human-trafficking czar, Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, as he visited Haiti on Wednesday in hopes of keeping the spotlight on the need to protect Haitians from trafficking.
CdeBaca met with Haitian officials from the ministry of social affairs as well as Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.
He also visited Foyer Lakay, an all-boys shelter and a safe space for kids run by Save the Children.
During a tour of the shelter, CdeBaca said he was "very impressed" with the facility and how street kids -- who were once exploited -- are learning vocational skills such as sewing and electrical work.
Later, he watched with delight as 3-year-olds sang and danced underneath a tent not far from congested downtown.
At the entrance of the safe space were pieces of yellow paper illustrating children's rights.
CdeBaca said while a lot of attention has been shed on the controversial and accepted practice of child servitude here known as restavek, he wanted to focus the issue of human trafficking, as outlined in the State Department's annual Trafficking in Person's report.
"Child slavery, especially restaveks, is a big problem, but it's not the only problem," he said.
For example, Haitian adults are at times held in servitude for prostitution.
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