In a county in western Kenya, the gold trade is luring children to a bustling mining town where child labor is common, with children as young as eight working deep inside the hard earth in search of gold.
Even as World Day Against Child Labor falls on Wednesday, children in the town of Migori dive deep into hundreds of tunnels lacking light, air, and warmth, the walls damp and musty, covered in moss and darkened by years of abuse. Only their footsteps can be heard echoing off the tunnel walls.
Armed with pickaxes, they carry sand and rocks in basins from the mines in the hope of finding precious gold flakes and nuggets. Some basins are very heavy, forcing children to grind them along the dirt tunnel floors into an opening to start the sorting process.
Looking from above, one can see dozens of children adding water to basins in search of gold. These children rarely see the inside of a classroom, as they spend most of their days here, and in fact their parents, guardians, and the wider community supports their difficult labor.
World's 2nd largest HIV meeting begins in South Africa
The world’s second largest HIV conference began Tuesday in South Africa, where delegates will discuss how unprecedented innovations and technologies could help mitigate the HIV AIDS epidemic.“This conference is where we dedicate our energy to share innovative plans to end the HIV epidemic,” Health Minister Dr. Zwelini Mkhize said a speech at the opening of the conference in Durban.He said the conference held for the ninth year in the country discusses ways to prevent HIV transmission and also ensures that people infected are given medicines and kept on treatment.“Lest we forget, we have an estimated 7.1 million South Africans who are HIV positive with 4.6 million on treatment,” Mkhize said.The minister said South Africa must move rapidly to ensure that everyone living with HIV is on treatment. South Africa also has the highest number of HIV patients who access treatment in the world.“Equally we must ensure that those of us who are HIV negative remain negative. This needs innovation and change as the theme of this conference suggests,” he said.“This biennial conference is the second largest HIV conference in the world, attended by approximately 3000 delegates, of which about a quarter are from SADC (Countries in Southern Africa), Europe, USA and other parts of the world,” Conference chairperson, prof. Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya said in a statement.She said some of those attending include scientists, policy makers, medical practitioners, government official and the civil society among others.She said delegates will determine how contemporary explosive and disruptive technologies can contribute towards sustained HIV prevention efforts, HIV testing, ART (Anti retroviral) uptake and adherence.Delegates will also discuss how technologies can trigger the development of new drugs, effectively utilize enormous volumes of data and improve communication and service delivery and eventually end the epidemic.The conference will conclude June 14.
Poor, tired, and skipping school
“We’re very poor, we need money from wherever we can get it,” Mary Nseme from the nearby village of Nyatika told Anadolu Agency.
“We know children aren’t supposed to work, but without them, we can’t eat, as most of us are old.”
As June 12 marks World Day Against Child Labor, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the European Union say that more than 1.9 million children in Kenya -- one of sub-Saharan Africa’s top five economies -- are working. Numerous reports show the numbers of Kenyan child numbers are growing as poverty rates rise, especially in rural and poor urban households.
A recent ILO fact sheet laments the millions of children age 5-17 working in Kenya, adding: “Only 3.2% of these children have attained a secondary school education and 12.7% have no formal schooling at all.”
Trump flaunts 'secret' migration deal already revealed by Mexico
U.S. President Donald Trump brandished a document on Tuesday confirming details of a regional asylum project agreed with Mexico to stave off threatened tariffs, saying the plan was "secret" even though Mexican officials had revealed much of it.Trump, who has made containing illegal immigration a priority issue and has blamed Mexico for the problem since running for office in 2016, did not show the text of any document or give any details. However, a Reuters photograph of the sheet of paper allowed reporters to read parts of it.Under duress because of Trump's threat to impose tariffs unless Mexico stemmed a surge in migrants that has overwhelmed U.S. detention facilities and immigration courts, Mexico signed a pact last week agreeing to control the flow of people from Central America, including deploying 6,000 members of a new national guard along its border with Guatemala.Mexico's foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said Mexico also agreed to a 45-day timeline to show increased enforcement efforts were effective in reducing the people flows. If that fails, Mexico has agreed to consider a longstanding U.S. demand that Central American asylum seekers crossing through Mexico apply for refuge there, not the United States, making Mexico a "safe third country," a demand that Mexico has long rejected."Safe third country could be applied if we fail, and we accept what they say," Ebrard said on Tuesday evening, noting that Mexican legislators would then give consideration to accommodating a change in migration law.Nevertheless, Ebrard said other Latin American countries should share the burden, something that the United States appeared to have agreed to.The document that Trump waved at reporters laid out "a regional approach to burden-sharing in relation to the processing of refugee status claims to migrants"; talked of "45 days"; and said Mexico had committed to immediately examine its laws and rules to enable it to implement such an agreement.DAILY PROGRESSAsylum is at the core of Trump's concerns about a surge in undocumented migration because a large proportion of the people apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border say they are fleeing violence and repression. Since many travel with children - who cannot be held in detention long-term - they are released into the United States to await the resolution of their asylum cases, something the president calls "catch and release."Many migrants say they are afraid of returning to their home countries, which triggers a U.S. immigration court process that can take months or years to resolve due to backlogs in the system. In January, the Trump administration began sending thousands of migrants back to Mexico to wait there instead.Ebrard said those asylum seekers would start being returned to wait out their cases in Mexico via three more cities, which officials will decide on Friday.Deployment of the national guard on Mexico's border with Guatemala would begin on Wednesday, he added.The vast majority of undocumented migrants arriving in the United States are from Central America, but significant numbers have also been arriving in recent months from Cuban and Haiti, via Panama, and from African countries, often via Brazil.In comments on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would evaluate "daily" the progress of Mexico's efforts. In an apparent reference to the regional asylum concept, he said the United States was also talking to Brazil, Central American nations and Panama.Vice President Mike Pence also referred to a regional approach, suggesting Guatemala could receive asylum seekers from its neighbors."We also reached an agreement with Guatemala to reform our laws to essentially say that if people are looking for asylum they ought to be willing to apply for asylum in the first safe country in which they arrive. We'll only move on to that if it's necessary," Pence told the Fox News Channel's "Special Report with Bret Baier" on Monday.BORDER INFRASTRUCTURERevealing more details of Mexico's strategy for rapidly putting the brakes on immigration, Ebrard said on Tuesday that border infrastructure on its southern frontier would be improved significantly. To meet its commitments to Washington, Mexican migration facilities in the south need to be revamped, he said."You go to the south and the first thing you ask yourself is 'Right, where's the border?' There's nothing. The idea is to make the south like the north as far as possible," he said.Over the weekend there was no sign that Mexico had started to harden the border, with migrants and locals crossing a river on rafts in sight of a busy official port of entry.
Speaking in Swahili, Diana Anyango told Anadolu Agency: “I started to do this work when I was 8 years, now I’m 14. I would love to go to school but my family says I have to work. I’m always in and out of school.”
“When we leave this place … for me, my joints ache and I’m extremely tired,” said Milka Atieno, 13. “When it rains I get malaria because mosquitoes are all over.
Telling how her family depends on her mine work, she added: “When I get specks of gold my family is very happy and I don’t work for a few days. We also eat chicken at home, which makes me happy.”
Amnesty warns of ongoing 'war crimes' in Sudan’s Darfur
Rights group Amnesty International Tuesday warned that Sudanese government forces “continue to commit war crimes” in Darfur state.In a report released by the regional office in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, London-based Amnesty International said it had fresh evidence of government-sponsored crimes in Darfur targeting peacekeepers.“[It] has disturbing new evidence, including satellite imagery, showing that Sudanese government forces, including the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied militias, have continued to commit war crimes and other serious human rights violations in Darfur,” read the statement.Sudanese opposition suspends civil disobedienceUN Security Council adopts measure on missing personsThe rights group warned that the government sponsored-violence led to the destruction of at least 45 villages, unlawful killings, and sexual violence in Darfur.“In Darfur, as in Khartoum, we’ve witnessed the Rapid Support Forces’ (RSF) despicable brutality against Sudanese civilians -- the only difference being, in Darfur they have committed atrocities with impunity for years,” Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of Amnesty International, said.The Amnesty warned that if the UN and the African Union Peace and Security Council close UNAMID, a hybrid operation of the UN and the AU in Darfur, tens of thousands of civilians will be left at the mercy of the RSF, “a ruthless Sudanese security force that has committed crimes against humanity and war crimes.”A crucial vote will be delivered on the future of the UNAMID mission on June 27.Envoy says Sudan talks to resume as strike suspendedUN Security Council condemns violence in Sudan
The children here are subjected to one of the worst forms of child labor, but as yet local authorities are doing little to address the situation.
Elekiah Agola, the head teacher of Macalder Primary School, told Anadolu Agency that whenever she visits the mines, she sees some of her occasional-at-best students.
“They don’t come to school, but they choose to work to fend for their families,” she explained.
Attempts to reach local officials for comment went unanswered, but speaking to media on the issue, former Nyatike MP Edick Anyanga commented that the national government and the Education Ministry should help these children and their families to ensure that they stay in school.
Envoy says Sudan talks to resume as strike suspended
Sudan's military and opposition groups have agreed to resume talks on the formation of a transitional council, an Ethiopian envoy said on Tuesday, as an opposition alliance said it was suspending its campaign of civil disobedience and strikes.Sudan's Transitional Military Council also agreed to release political prisoners as a confidence-building measure, special envoy Mahmoud Dirir told reporters in Khartoum.The steps appeared to show a softening of positions after talks between the two sides collapsed following the violent dispersal of a protest sit-in on June 3.The crackdown, in which dozens of people were killed, dealt a big setback to hopes of a transition towards democratic elections following the overthrow of veteran leader Omar al-Bashir in April.The Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) alliance on Sunday began an open-ended strike that brought much activity in Khartoum to a standstill.The alliance said in a statement it would suspend the strike from Wednesday until further notice, though it encouraged people to remain mobilised for possible further action.Opposition leader Khaled Omar struck a cautious note, saying in comments to Al Hadath TV that the suspension of the campaign was "not tied to any specific political developments".Yasir Arman, one of three officials from the southern SPLM-N rebel movement who were detained and then deported to South Sudan after the breakdown of talks, said the military council did not want to cede power."My experience in Khartoum is that the military council wanted to divide the oppositions, to have a deal with them that will keep them in power," Arman told Reuters in Juba a day after saying he had been tied up and flown out of Khartoum on a military helicopter.In a statement on Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council called on all parties "to continue working together towards a consensual solution to the current crisis."MEDITATION MISSIONAfter the military ousted and arrested Bashir on April 11, following months of protests, talks became deadlocked over who would control a sovereign council that would oversee a three-year transition towards elections.Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed flew to Sudan to mediate when the talks broke down last week.Opposition sources said Abiy had proposed a 15-member transitional council comprising eight civilians and seven military officers with a rotating presidency.A leader of the DFCF opposition alliance said on Monday night that the group had decided to name eight members to the council and nominate Abdullah Hamdouk, a former executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, as prime minister.The bloodshed in Sudan has prompted concern from world powers including the United States, which announced on Monday it was sending its senior diplomat for Africa to Khartoum this week to push for a resumption of talks.The African Union has suspended Sudan's membership.Stability in the nation of 40 million is crucial for a volatile region struggling with conflict and insurgencies from the Horn of Africa to Egypt and Libya.The military council has been bolstered by support from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. The UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday his country was in contact with both sides and was seeking "a smooth organised political transition".DARFURThe recent crackdown led to at least 118 deaths since June 3, according to a group of doctors linked to the opposition. The government has confirmed 61 deaths.The crackdown began with a raid on a protest sit-in outside Khartoum's Defence Ministry on June 3 which witnesses said was led by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).The RSF, which is led by the council's deputy head, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, grew out of Arab militias that fought in the western region of Darfur during a civil war that began in 2003.Rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday accused the RSF and allied militia of being responsible for the destruction of dozens of villages, unlawful killings and sexual abuse in Darfur over the past year.Amnesty said tens of thousands of civilians in Darfur's Jebel Marra would become more vulnerable if the U.N. Security Council and the AU were to vote on June 27 to close their joint peacekeeping mission there, UNAMID.An RSF spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.According to the United Nations, the military council demanded UNAMID hand over its premises to the RSF as part of the mission's planned withdrawal in 2020.