The sight of children working in mining sites in the Bétaré Oya district of eastern Cameroon is growing.
Statistics remains non existent but town hall estimates over a thousand children under age18 work tirelessly in these sites.
Moussa Damjouma, is a child gold panner . She said, “I come here to work because I need money to eat”
There are many children in the mines. It is these children who help us to better search for gold. We also help them by giving them some money.
According to mining operator, Justin Mbrama, “there are many children in the mines. It is these children who help us to better search for gold. We also help them by giving them some money.”
Poverty appears to be a compiling force, driving these children to the sites.
For her part, Djibrila Ousmane mining operator, the gold provides livelihood for the family.
“Yes, the children support their father. Thanks to these children It is this gold that allows us to have something. It helps us to feed ourselves.”
United Nations agency in charge of child protection, has been battling to protect these children
Chief Child Protection at UNICEF, Barbara Jamar, called for joint efforts for maximum output.
“There are medical consequences, psychological, psychosocial on them . So we need all partners on board so that we can have a real response plan”
Awareness-creation against child labour is in full swing, according to Narcisse Etoga Catholic Relief Services animator.
“Children must no longer go to gold mines, they must go to school! And even disabled children have the right to go to school.”