Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Child Labour -Sierra Leone

A recent report by the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) in Sierra Leone, interviewed 267 children who work in mining areas across the country and found that 55 per cent of the child miners live with at least one parent. The report also found that 38 per cent live with a relative and seven per cent live on their own.

"It's an issue of poverty. The people are so poor after the war that they cannot actually afford to send their kids to school." Tongu said there are thousands of children working in mines across the country, many of whom don't go to school - a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that even in wartime, all children have the right to receive an education. "Child mining, to me, is one of the worst forms of child labour," said Tongu. "The conditions are hazardous and the work is heavy." He said children work long hours for little or no pay and are often taken from their families by relatives who say they will care for them and then put to work in the mines.

Abu Marrah knows all about this. He has never been to school and is unsure of his age, which is in the range of 10-12 years. He was taken from his family in Kabala by his uncle and promised a job in carpentry, but for the last year has spent most of his days mining at Zone 3/7. He digs in heavy clay, hauls gravel and is immersed in filthy water for much of his day.
"The work is hard," he said. "I am part of those who wash the gravel. I only have one meal per day and I come early in the morning and I am here up until 2 o'clock." Marrah said . He often works for days without finding a diamond and those he has found have never earned him more than Le 1000.

And for Isatu Kamara and others like her who continue to bring their children to work in mines all over the region. "We have no choice, we have no money," she said.

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