(The Southern African Times) – Côte d’Ivoire police rescued 68 children working on cocoa farms, most of whom were trafficked from neighbouring Burkina Faso, authorities said.
According to a Reuters report, the West African country is the world’s top cocoa producer and has close to 1 million children working in the sector despite years of efforts to end child labour.
One of the children who spoke to Reuters at a care centre in the southwestern region of Soubre, said that his father had brought him from Burkina Faso at the age of 13 to work on his uncle’s cocoa plantation and had left him there.
The young boy said he had been working on the cocoa farms for two years since he arrived in the country.
The issue could weigh on exports to the European Union, which is considering new laws to ban the import of commodities linked to human rights abuses.
The operation which took place last Thursday and Friday involved around 100 police officers and was the first since 2014 in Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt.
Brahima Coulibaly, a member of the national monitoring committee on child labour, said authorities will conduct operations in another region in a few months.