MAPUTO (AFP) — The United Nations expressed concern about child trafficking in Mozambique on Thursday after police intercepted a lorry carrying 39 children near the border with Zimbabwe.
Police in Mozambique stopped the lorry carrying the children on Monday as they were about to be smuggled across the border, the interior ministry announced Wednesday.
"This incident calls attention to the serious problem of child trafficking and the urgent need for the adoption of legal instruments to enforce the protection of children against abuse and exploitation," said the UN resident coordinator in Mozambique, Ndolamb Ngokwey, in a statement.
The children, all aged between six and 16 years, were discovered following a tip-off when the lorry was pulled over while headed to the western Machipanda border crossing, said ministry spokesman Feliciano Dique.
The UN statement said that investigations had found that Mozambique is both a country of origin and transit for child trafficking.
"The capital Maputo is the main destination for internal trafficking while South Africa is the main destination for children trafficked outside of Mozambique and from neighbouring countries."
A coalition of rights groups warned late last year that trafficking of Mozambican children across to neighbouring countries, mostly South Africa, has risen tenfold in the last two years.
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