[Stop-traffic] News/Ivory Coast: Only remote Ivorian farms use child labour -migrant

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Ivory Coast: Only remote Ivorian farms use child labour -migrant
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Tue Oct 24 2000 - 14:20:28 EDT


           Only remote Ivorian farms use child labour -migrant

RTw 10/6/00 2:39 PM

  Reuters Ltd.

     By Vincent t'Sas
      YABAYO, Ivory Coast, Oct 6 (Reuters) - The use of children from Mali
as labourers on Ivory Coast's cocoa plantations is limited to remote
plantations deep in the bush, according to the head of one large community
of migrant farmers from Mali.
      "The children are in the bush. If you bring a child here, it will
flee," Ibrahima Samake told Reuters.
      Yabayo is on the main road between Soubre and Daloa, in the key
southwest cocoa region.
      Around 650 Malian farmers and their families live in the Yabayo
region, some since the early 1950s.
      On September 28, Britain's Channel 4 television aired a documentary on
children from Mali being used as slaves on Ivorian plantations.
      One allegation that 90 percent of cocoa farms in Ivory Coast used
slave labour was seen as a gross exaggeration by people inside the country
with knowledge of the cocoa sector.
      Ivory Coast's ambassador to Britain, Kouadio Adjoumani, called the
programme "wildly inaccurate" and "nonsense" in a statement.
      Samake said the youngest Malians who had migrated to the Yabayo area
to work on the plantations were adolescents of at least 15 or 16 years of
age.
      "Last year we had one 12-year old child who came here and we have all
paid his bus fare to send him back to Mali," he said.
      A Yabayo cocoa farmer told Reuters that in the past he had employed
adolescents from Mali.
      "In the past that worked well. You paid the person who brought him
here (from Mali) six bags of cocoa. Now 30 bags are not even enough to pay
for one worker," Seidou Zongo said.
      Farmgate prices in Ivory Coast have fallen to around 300 CFA per kg
($0.40) at the start of the 2000/2001 crop season from 575 CFA francs at
the start of the 1998/99 season.
      There is a widespread practice of young people moving from one West
African country to another to work and paying their way by working free for
some time for the farmer who pays the fare.
      Nationals from the 16-country Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS), which includes Mali and Ivory Coast, can travel freely in
the region without a visa and do not need a work permit.
      A Malian journalist, Alpha Kaba Diakite, who has investigated traffic
in child labour since 1996, has said that about 15,000 Malian children,
mostly aged between nine and 12 years old, were working on Ivorian
plantations.
      Ivory Coast and Mali signed an agreement on September 1 aimed at
halting the trafficking in child labour. The two countries agreed to
repatriate children and penalise employers.
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