Burkina Faso authorities rescued 374 children between January and March from being trafficked to neighbouring countries to work in agriculture or small-scale mines, government figures released on Monday showed.
“For some time now, this phenomenon affecting children has grown to worrying proportions in our country,” Helene Marie Laurence Ilboudo, minister for humanitarian action, told reporters.
Last year, 2,318 children were intercepted through checks on buses or through denunciation, according to the ministry.
Most were under 16 and destined to work in plantations, artisanal mines or for domestic work in countries neighbouring Burkina Faso.
Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa producer, is a major destination for child trafficking and has also intercepted and repatriated minors used for work in the fields, the ministry said.
In addition, 58 children found by security forces during various operations were handed over to social services, Ilboudo said, also highlighting the scale of the problem of homeless children living on the streets.