LIBREVILLE, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Gabon repatriated 28 children out of the 34 found on an immigrants boat on Friday evening to Benin, their country of origin, aboard an Ivorian Air airplane.
Well dressed, a doll in the hands of some trafficking victims, and others holding a photo, these children left the Gabonese capital Libreville under strict escort.
The UNICEF representatives, Gabon's Ministry of Labor officials and host families came to the airport to say good-bye to the children.
Arranged like school children, they jumped the metal detector with a UNICEF official from Benin, who had come from Cotonou to keep watch during their journey and the future insertion into their respective families.
There are six children from Togo and Mali still staying in Libreville. The formalities for their repatriation have not yet been started.
They all arrived in Gabon aboard a boat flying a Ghanaian flag and was taken on Oct. 18 by the Gabonese navy. The boat was transporting a total of 288 passengers including 135 from Benin, 78 from Togo, 22 from Mali and 21 from Burkina Faso.
Only 24 adults were legal passengers and allowed to stay in Gabon. The 34 minors on board were placed in a home pending their repatriation.
"We are pleased to see them go back very happily," said Jeanne Nyalendo from the Ministry of Labor.
"This case poses a problem of child trafficking and exploitation to Gabon," she added.
In the sad chain of child trafficking and exploitation in Africa, Gabon has become a recipient of child slaves. These children come from Benin, Togo, Mali, Burkina Faso and sometimes Nigeria.
They are placed in the homes of the West African nationals who stay in Gabon and exploit them just as slaves, making them suffer inhuman treatment.
Under the international pressure, Gabon adopted a law prohibiting human trafficking in 2000.