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Too Young to Work and Wed

Walking for hours under a blazing sun to sell mangoes, spending 12 to 13 hours a day repairing flat tyres or breaking rocks in a quarry - Emilienne (13), Roger (13) and Marc (15) never imagined that they would have to provide meals for their families this early in their young lives.

The economic recession brought on by the Covid pandemic has plunged their families into extreme poverty which, in turn, has meant that they have had to leave school. Like some 24 million children worldwide, according to UNESCO, these boys growing up in Burkina Faso have had their lives turned upside down by the global Covid.

With schools closed, threats to children's safety, such as child labour, gender-based violence and child marriage, which had been receding over the past years have reappeared. UNICEF, the UN's children's agency, predicts that Covid could be responsible for 10 million child marriages by 2030. Emilienne's grandmother is already discussing marrying her off in a year or two. Meanwhile, Emilienne herself dreams of going back to school.

Panos photographer Laurent Weyl and journalist Cecile Bontron travelled to the West African country in their second reportage covering the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on people in developing countries.
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