A pedophilia ring has been uncovered in The Gambia, where parents desperately sell their children, especially toddlers to tourists for as little as £2-a-time, for sex
Huge numbers of predators are taking advantage of lax laws in the poverty stricken African country to embark on sick child abuse holidays where they openly target little boys and girls, The Sun UK reports.
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Sun Online saw first hand how poor Gambian children can be vulnerable to British paedos when we visited the beach resorts that dot Kololi on the country’s picturesque Atlantic coastline.
Our reporter was constantly shocked by the number of unaccompanied African minors he saw being cared for by middle-aged, Western men who did not appear to be their biological fathers.
The encounters witnessed included a girl aged between six and eight having lunch with a balding, white haired man in a restaurant filled with similarly aged tourists.
The same day we saw a stoutly built man in his 50s or 60s wading into the ocean gripping the hand of a tiny African child in white swimming shorts.
Equally unsettling was the sight of a Gambian toddler watching wide-eyed with fear as a middle-aged white woman got into a fist fight with a young black prostitute at a popular beach bar.
It was 11.30pm at night and the air was thick with cigarette smoke. The child, no older than two, was being held closely by a white man with a British accent.
Children sold for £2
Our investigation comes as experts warn that the economic crisis unleashed by the collapse of travel firm Thomas Cook is helping turn the former British colony into a “paedophile paradise” where perverts can operate unchecked.
Thomas Cook flew 45 per cent of The Gambia’s 100,000 annual visitors from the UK to the capital Banjul until it went into liquidation under the weight of its debts in September.
In an exclusive interview, Lamin Fatty, the National Coordinator of the Child Protection Alliance in The Gambia, reveals that both male and female tourists are targeting African minors.
“Sex is cheap in my country and children are being sold for as little as 150 dalasis, or just over £2 in your currency.
“Some of the parents know their children are being abused and they accept it because they are so desperate for food in their bellies.
“Others are too naïve to realise. They think the Westerner is paying their bills and helping their boy or girl out of the kindness of their heart, while in reality they have bad intentions.
“Child abuse is going on all the time in The Gambia and the government is not doing enough to put a stop to it.
“Our children are being approached directly on the beaches or the street and child abusers from all over Europe including the UK are coming here for this.
“I want to make clear that this does not just involve men but also adult women who are paying for sex with teenage boys in The Gambia.
“We have laws that are supposed to stop this from happening but they are not being enforced so we have become a paradise for paedophiles.”
Former Thomas Cook rep Anne Heap, 53, from Wigan, said:
“These people are as poor as poor can be — it’s rare to see a child wearing shoes — and there isn’t any other trade for them outside tourism.
“Thomas Cook used to always give us an extra 10kg luggage allowance so the workers and passengers could bring aid boxes to The Gambia — basic things like clothes, medicine and school equipment.
“The first thing I thought of when we went under was, ‘What is going to happen to people in The Gambia?’ We were the only airline flying directly there.
“I’ve heard that crime has already shot up as there is not enough money coming in — the hand that feeds them is gone.
“Sex tourism is already huge in The Gambia — some bars are like brothels — and I do worry that more children will get lured into prostitution to feed their families.
“When I was working there I would see old men walking with girls as young as 10, 11 or 12. There is a dark side to The Gambia.
“One time when we were flying back to Manchester there was a British man in his 70s with a girl who was only about eight or nine. This was about eight years ago.
“I was so concerned about what was going on that I got chatting to him outside the toilet during the flight. I wanted to speak to the girl too but she never left her seat, she didn’t look comfortable at all.
“I reported it and border security later told me the man had been ‘apprehended’ but I was not able to find out what happened to him or the girl after that.”
There is no proof to suggest that any of the men we pictured were paedophiles.
However the experts we showed our dossier of photos to said the police should have questioned them according to Gambian child protection laws.
Lamin Fatty said:
“This does worry me because, if the children are unaccompanied, they should not be alone in tourist areas without their parents.
“It is also forbidden for a child to be in a bar so late at night and we do not encourage physical affection with minors.
“I work with young girls and boys and I would not hug them or pick them up, it is not appropriate.”
Malick Jallow added:
“I would have questioned these men had I seen them myself. As a lawyer and an activist, I would want to know if they have the authority to be caring for that child.
“We have a lot of good Samaritans coming to The Gambia but we also have people who use charity as a front to hide their bad intentions.
“The security guards should have questioned these men but there is a culture of inferiority here and they would have been scared to challenge a wealthy Westerner.”