Today: Tuesday, 28 May 2024 year

UN warns COVID-19 could plunge millions of children into forced labour

UN warns COVID-19 could plunge millions of children into forced labour

The UN body, International Labor Organization, says in its recent report that child labour has decreased by 94 million. However, the current coronavirus crisis could change this situation significantly. A report “COVID-19 and Child Labor: A Time of Crisis” dedicated to mark World Day Against Child Labor, June 12.

The ILO report warns the global COVID-19 epidemic is likely to reverse decades of steady progress made in reducing the number of child labourers, according to VoA.

A joint report released by the two UN agencies, ILO and the UNICEF, warns that millions of children are likely to be pushed into forced labour because of the economic fallout from the recent pandemic.

The latest figures put the number of child labourers globally at 152 million, nearly half of them in what is called hazardous child labour. Those jobs are particularly dangerous and hazardous to the physical and mental well-being of children. They include work in the agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, and domestic sectors.

According to the senior researcher, Lorenzo Guarcello, Africa is the most fragile region, it has the largest number of child labourers. Of its 72 million child labourers, he said, 31.5 million are in hazardous work. ILO official also said most are employed in the agriculture sector.

Сhildren who do not go to school to be forced into hazardous jobs

ILO report shows the evidence is growing that child labour is rising as schools close during the pandemic. He said many children who do not go to school are likely to be forced into exploitative and hazardous jobs.

“Families are sending children to sell in the streets some food, flowers,” he said. “So, already, they are starting to work. They are much more exposed to work in hazardous conditions because of the increase, the likely increase and involvement in the informal sector.”

Mr Guarcello reiterates that working in African agriculture exposes children to hazardous conditions — long working hours, being exposed to the heat for a full day, using dangerous machinery and many other factors.

Both the ILO and UNICEF are developing a simulation model to look at the global impact of COVID-19. In fact, new global estimates will be released next year.

Among the recommendations of the newly-released report, is comprehensive social protection and easier access to credit for poor households to counter the threat of child labour.