ES SALAAM (Xinhua) --
Tanzania was urged by
Human Rights Watch on Wednesday to curb child labor in
small-scale mines to avoid grave risks to their health and
Rights Watch said in a report released in Dar es Salaam that
children as young as eight are working in Tanzania’s
small- scale gold mines.
96-page report, titled Toxic Toll: Child labor and Mercury
Exposure in Tanzania’s Small-Scale Gold Mines, describes
how thousands of children work in licensed and unlicensed
small-scale gold mines in Tanzania, Africa’s fourth
largest gold producer.
report said the children dig and drill in deep, unstable
pits, work underground for shifts of up to 24 hours, and
transport and crush heavy bags of gold ore.
said children risk injury from pit collapses and accidents
with tools, as well as long-term health damage from exposure
to mercury, breathing dust and carrying heavy loads.
thought I was dead, I was so frightened,” the report
quoted a 17-year-old boy as saying after he survived a pit
mining work also harms children’s schooling and places
girls at risk of sexual exploitation, said the report which
is based on interviews with over 200 people, including 80
children between the ages of eight and 17 working in
artisanal gold mining areas in various parts of Tanzania.
boys and girls are lured to the gold mines in the hopes of
a better life, but find themselves stuck in a dead-end
cycle of danger and despair,” said Janine Morna,
children’s rights research fellow at Human Rights Watch.
and donors need to get these children out of the mines and
into school or vocational training,” she said.
Rights Watch visited 11 mining sites in Geita, Shinyanga and
Mbeya regions and interviewed more than 200 people,
including 61 children working in small-scale gold mining
report said the employment of children in dangerous mining
work was one of the worst forms of child labor under
international agreements to which Tanzania is a party.
paper, Tanzania has strong laws protecting child labor in
mining, but the government has done far too little to
enforce them, “ said Morna, “labour inspectors need to
visit both licensed and unlicensed mines regularly, and
ensure employers face sanctions for using child labour.”
report said child laborers, as well as children living near
mining sites, are at risk of mercury poisoning that attacks
the central nervous system and can cause lifelong
miners, including children, mix mercury with crushed ore and
burn the resulting gold-mercury amalgam to release the gold,
exposing them to poisonous mercury fumes.