Mark Zuckerberg owned social media platform, Facebook has come under fire over its alleged involvement with sale of Cameroonian refugee children in Nigeria.
Criticizing facebook in a press release jointly issued by The Africans Unite Against Child Abuse (AFRUCA) United Kingdom and the Centre for Children’s Health, Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE) Nigeria (Lagos based NGO), the social media platform was criticized for allegedly being used as a conduit for the online sale of Cameroonian refugee children in Nigeria.
This is coming after a revelation that children especially girls were being trafficked from a refugee camp in Ogoja, Cross Rivers State, Nigeria after being advertised for labour exploitation on Facebook.
Expressing concern over response from the social media platform the release read: “The NGOs were exceptionally concerned that despite this case being reported to Facebook, it took the online platform hours to take action, thereby putting the victims at further risk of harm.”
It will be recalled that Sahara Reporters had, in a recent investigative report, revealed details of a named person who had used his Facebook page to advertise photos of Cameroonian girls fleeing the ongoing conflict in Southern Cameroon’s Anglophone region.
A conflict that displaced millions of people, with several thousand staying in refugee camps across Southern Nigeria.
According to the investigation, the victims of the Facebook sale were mostly teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 17 years.
The NGOs expressed dismay that it took Facebook 29 hours to suspend the account of the suspect, after Sahara Reporters investigator Philip Obaji Jnr, had reported the account
The NGOs further revealed that the delay allegedly led to the trafficking of another young person, a 13 year old girl to Benue State via the social media platform by the suspect.”
Decrying the rate at which social media platforms are used to champion human trafficking, Chief Executive Officer of UK-based AFRUCA, Debbie Ariyo, said: “It is concerning that social medial platforms are increasingly being used by human traffickers to facilitate the sale of human beings, with little being done to address this. Social media platforms have become the 21st century slave markets. This has to stop.”
Further accusing Facebook of having discriminatory approach to addressing crimes ,the Executive Director of CEE-HOPE Nigeria Betty Abah, said: “It appears Facebook has a discriminatory approach to addressing crimes against vulnerable children in Africa than other more advanced parts of the world. I do not believe Facebook would have failed to act if this was happening in a European country”.
The NGO however called on relevant Government agencies in Nigeria to ensure that the welfare and safety of refugee children are well catered for
“Both organisations urged the relevant government agencies in Nigeria to act to secure the well-being of refugee children in the country, and investigate the child trafficking allegations to ensure all perpetrators are brought to book. They also called on Facebook to investigate the case as well as tighten its safeguard mechanisms to ensure that crimes such as human trafficking are completely eradicated on its platforms,” the release read.