More than 860 million children around the world are victims of malnutrition, disease, trafficking and other forms of economic and social exploitation, according to an annual Vatican report. More than 200 million children between the ages of five and 14 are being used as cheap labour, while the number of children living on the streets is increasing each year, said the report, issued by the Vatican missionary news agency, Fides. Millions of children are being forced into armed conflict or prostitution. In many countries, births are unregistered, leaving those children open to a lifetime of exploitation, said the report. The report said that among the estimated 211 million child labourers about 171 million work in hazardous environments - operating dangerous machinery, handling toxic materials or spending hours in poorly ventilated mines, for example. "This is the scandal of our time. For 860 million children of the world, the future is an unknown and the present is a nightmare that lies on the consciences of adults," said Fides.
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