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US cites three more nations for child, forced labor issues

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government on Wednesday added South Sudan, Suriname and Vietnam to its list of 74 countries where adults and children as young as 5 are subjected to serious labor and human trafficking abuses in prostitution, mining and other dangerous work.

The U.S. Labor Department's annual assessment of global human trafficking also raised concerns that the international economic crisis is slowing efforts to eradicate such child abuses by 2016.

“Just a few years from the deadline much remains to be done,” the department said in a video accompanying its findings.

“Great progress has been made, but with the global economic crisis those efforts have been scaled back, and that progress is now under threat.”

Overall, the U.S. report cites 134 products from 74 countries tainted by child and other abusive labor. It said Asian countries, especially China and Myanmar, have relatively high numbers of goods made by forced labor.

Although it is difficult to track just how many children are exploited for work worldwide, the International Labour Organization put the figure between 980,000 and about 1.2 million in a 2005 estimate.

Overall, nearly 21 million people of all ages are victims, according to the Geneva-based organization, which is part of the United Nations.

The U.S. report follows new steps announced by President Barack Obama on Tuesday to fight human trafficking.

For the three newest countries, U.S. officials found labor problems over cattle in South Sudan as well as bricks and garments in Vietnam. In Suriname, gold mining and other work raised major concerns.

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