Child trafficking in Mali rises over Covid-19 and conflict


Bamako – Child trafficking has risen in Mali, with more being recruited by armed groups and forced to work in gold mines, said the UN.

The situation is worsened by conflict, Covid-19 and deteriorating economic conditions, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says.

“As schools remain closed due to conflict, insecurity, Covid-19 or teachers’ strikes –children are also pushed towards informal gold mines, particularly in Gao and Kidal where many areas are controlled by armed groups.”

The UNHCR says a network of humanitarian agencies that it leads documented 230cases of child recruitment for the first half of the year, compared with 215 cases for the whole of 2019.

It also found an estimated 6, 000, disproportionately boys, working across eight mine sites in the west African country.

It noted that the children were exposed to “the worst forms of child labour, economic exploitation, and physical, sexual and psychological abuse”.

“Children are being forced to fight by armed groups, trafficked, raped, sold, forced into sexual or domestic servitude, or married off. Many more children are at risk in the Sahel, a region which is becoming the fastest-growing humanitarian crisis in the world,” said UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Trigg.

Mali is the source, transit and destination country for transnational trafficking, though internal trafficking is more prevalent, according to the US state department.

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