They come mainly from Burkina Faso. Boys and young people as young as 8 years of age. They come because there are struggles and problems back home. They are looking for hope. Hope that life can be better and that they can save some money to send back home to help a mother, a family. They can be taken by an agent or a member of the extended family. Uncles and aunties as they are called locally. Sometimes a father has died and it is the only hope that a mother has to help look after the rest of the children. Sometimes they are kidnapped.
Cote d’Ivoire is the biggest producer of cocoa in the world. Its production is labour intensive and cannot be harvested by machine as the cocoa pod has to be cut from the tree in such a way that it will produce from the same spot again. Trafficked young people are mostly trafficked through Ghana across the easy border to Cote d’Ivoire. They are met at the border by Ivorian people (maybe job agents), who do not need to fill out costly forms to receive workers. Then they are taken mainly to isolated areas in the south west of the country. It happens most where they “chase the forest”. This means where new areas are being developed; away from the structures of civil society and where they can be hidden in the forest and plantations. The roads are dreadful and the areas can be very dangerous. Farmers are not given a high price for their cocoa and so they resort to cheap labour to make an adequate profit.
These trafficked young people seldom get any money only the clothes they wear, food and somewhere to sleep. The work can be dangerous as they are not always taught to use the machetes and the chemicals they are using safely.