Youth Media Action (YMA) with support from Internews and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), recently embarked on a robust campaign in various high schools across Montserrado and Nimba counties raising awareness, and education against Trafficking in Persons (TIPs).
The YMA is a youth-led media initiative that seeks to address challenges faced by the Liberian media through the empowerment of young people, especially high school students to become professional journalists.
Its anti-trafficking in-persons campaign, which was launched over the weekend at the 2nd KD Film Festival, brought together students, parents, actors, government officials and stakeholders at the jammed packed hall of a resort in Monrovia.
After the Child Broadcast Competition, some students holding placards with different messages about the TIPs mounted the podium to provide education about the act, highlighted TIPs definition, performed the means through which it is practiced, and penalties for perpetrators.
YMA Executive Director, Varmah Kamara, in an interview with reporters after the awareness program, said the campaign is part of efforts by the media group through its development partners to combat the threat that trafficking in persons poses to the future of a country.
Kamara, who is also a practicing Liberian Journalist, described TIPs as alarming in Liberia, as such, every citizen needs to get involved in the fight against the harmful practices of the “devilish act.”
“The most common TIPs practiced in Liberia is families, and relatives taking children from the interior to cities to send them to school, but deceive and turn them into breadwinners or modern-day slaves,” he said.
Kamara said Liberia is currently on Tier Two Watch list of the three tiers, according to the US State Department 2019 Human Trafficking Report, which if not dealt with in time, might cause Liberia to lose hundreds of million dollars in donor funds.
He said that to improve Liberia’s record, and curtail the alarming rates, and damaging effects of TIPs, there is a need for Liberians irrespective of economic status or religious background to rally against the “deadly act.”
Kamara said the ongoing campaign will assist YMA to conduct training in 10 different schools in Montserrado and Nimba counties.
He said the group will also organize inception meetings with parents and stakeholders in the two counties to educate them about the danger of TIPs.