November 22, 2012

Almost 400 children freed from forced labor in Africa

An international operation releases the children from extreme conditions in Burkina Faso.

The Associated Press

PARIS — An international police operation has freed nearly 400 children from forced labor in gold mines and cotton fields in Burkina Faso.

The police agency Interpol says children as young as 6 were found working in extreme conditions, including down “narrow, airless mining holes,” and receiving no pay or schooling. Some girls were also subjected to sexual abuse.

In a statement Thursday, France-based Interpol said 73 people were arrested and 387 children rescued in the operation Oct. 29-30 in the West African country.

Interpol says the children were returned to their families or taken in by social services.

Child labor is extremely common in West Africa, which has some of the world’s highest poverty rates.

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