Police in Ivory Coast say 22 people have been jailed for trafficking children to work on cocoa plantations.

Five of the traffickers were sentenced to 20 years in prison. The others for five.

They were arrested following a swoop earlier this month in which nearly 70 children were rescued.

Ivory Coast is the world’s top cocoa producer, commanding more than 40% of the market.

Up to six-million people work in the cocoa sector, many from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso.

A recent study estimated that about 800,000 of them are children.

There are fears that the numbers have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, as schools were closed leaving children more vulnerable to trafficking.

Some 2,000 children have been rescued from cocoa plantations in the past two years.


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