More than 12,000 children have been rescued in the past three years from gold mines in northern Tanzania, according to children’s rights groups who fear thousands more youngsters are being forced to work in hazardous conditions for a pittance.
Plan International said the children from Geita region in northern Tanzania are being identified and reintegrated back into school as part of a donor-funded initiative to clamp down on child labour involving children as young as eight.
The children’s charity Plan said thousands of boys and girls are lured to work in gold mines in northern and western Tanzania every year in the hope of a better life – but many find themselves stuck in a cycle of poverty and despair.
Their health is also put at risk by direct exposure to mercury used to process gold ore and girls often end up selling sex which exposes them to the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
Tanzania has laws prohibiting child labour in gold mines but critics say the government has not done enough to stop small, illegal mines from exploiting children.