Senegal's president has ordered the emergency removal of street children who are forced to beg, threatening fines and prison sentences against people who put them on the streets.

President Macky Sall late Friday made the announcement on his Twitter account, saying the children's rights must be protected.

There is a tradition of sending children to learn the Quran at boarding schools in Senegal. While many schools are legitimate, rights groups have said thousands of children are forced by their teachers to beg. Many are also abused and live in unsanitary living conditions.

Senegal adopted laws in 2005 that prohibit forcing children to beg, but rights groups have said there have not been many prosecutions.

Sall said at least 150 children would be taken off the streets and accompanied to centers.