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Guatemalan teachers to raise student awareness of human trafficking

( IOM ) -  IOM and Guatemala's Human Rights Ombudsman Office have provided teachers from Tajumulco, on the Mexican border, with kits of educational materials to enable them to raise student awareness of the dangers of irregular migration and human trafficking.

  

 

The kits are part of a series of activities, including teacher training and student competitions, which seek to provide Guatemala's educational system with tools to combat trafficking. They are part of IOM's USAID-funded Guatemalan Repatriates Project.

 

IOM trains teachers to refer cases of trafficking and child migrants with legal, educational, psychological or physical issues to competent authorities including the National Civil Police, the Human Rights Ombudsman Office (PDH) and the Secretariat Against Sexual Violence, Exploitation and Human Trafficking (SVET).

 

"In the months of October and November children as young as nine and twelve years old go to work as farm laborers in Tapachula (Mexico) and girls about 15 years as domestic workers. I tell them to do their best to continue their studies," said Rosmery Ochoa, an elementary school teacher from Tajumulco.

 

A total of twenty three teachers were given a board game entitled "Migrapoly," a manual entitled "What is human trafficking?" and other educational tools, including a crossword puzzle and a word search to teach their students aged between 12 and 15 about the risks of migration and human trafficking.

 

Thousands of Guatemalan unaccompanied minors travel every year to Mexico to work as street vendors, on farms or as domestic laborers. Others travel to the United States in search of employment, their family or for other reasons.

 

These children often become prey to criminal gangs who subject them to forced labor, begging and sexual exploitation - all different forms of human trafficking.

 

"We want to raise awareness, especially among children, because they usually go with their families to work on Mexican farms. We know that as migrants, they are a highly vulnerable group," said Jennifer Rompiche of the San Marcos PDH.

 

IOM is also working with teachers in the municipalities of Tacaná and Malacatán, which also border Mexico and have unaccompanied minors traveling north.

 

"In total, this month IOM will train 160 teachers of the three municipalities about the risks of irregular migration and trafficking when children migrate to Mexico and the United States," said Philip Burns of IOM San Marcos.

 

At the same time, IOM is working to help local government institutions through the Departmental Working Group on Migration and Human Security to identify and address cases of trafficking in the municipality of San Marcos.

 

This body, made up of governmental and non-governmental organizations, civil society and international agencies, coordinates efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of migration, including human trafficking.

 

"Guatemala is very vulnerable to trafficking because it is located on the migratory corridor, meaning that the prevention work that we do is important," says Sandra Gularte, manager of the PDH's Prevention of Trafficking Unit.