UNICEF warned: “We are losing ground in the fight against child labor.”
The United Nations said on Thursday that child labor has increased to 160 million-the first increase in 20 years-and that this number may increase by millions due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) found that 8.4 million children have been forced to engage in child labor in the past four years, and that by the end of 2022, 9 million children will be at similar risk COVID -19 result.
The worst case is even more thought-provoking. An ILO simulation model shows that if critical social protection coverage is not available, the number of children at risk could increase to 46 million.
“The new estimates sounded the alarm. When a new generation of children is in danger, we cannot stand by and watch,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in a press release.
“We are at a critical juncture, and a lot depends on how we respond. Now is the time to renew commitment and energy to reverse the situation and break the cycle of poverty and child labor.”
Governments and international organizations have made significant progress in eliminating child labor. According to data from the International Labour Organization, between 2000 and 2016, the number of children dropped by 94 million. But in the past four years, this trend has seen a worrying reversal.
According to the report’s findings, children between the ages of 5 and 11 engaged in child labor now account for more than half of the global total. Since 2016, the number of children between the ages of 5 and 17 who are engaged in hazardous or harmful health, safety, or ethical work has increased by 6.5 million to 79 million.
The agricultural sector accounts for 70% of working children, or 112 million.
The situation in some areas is worse than in others. Population growth, extreme poverty, and lack of social protection programs in sub-Saharan Africa forced another 16.6 million children to become child laborers in just four years.
The International Labour Organization and UNICEF warned that the coronavirus pandemic is threatening the progress made in the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The economic crisis and school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have made it easier for millions of children to work longer hours in deteriorating conditions and dangerous jobs.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement: “We are losing our edge in combating child labor, and last year’s struggle did not make this struggle easier. “
“Now that the global lockdown, school closures, economic disruption and shrinking national budgets have entered their second year, families are forced to make heartbreaking choices.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund and the International Labor Organization urge governments and international financial institutions to invest in programs to bring children back to school.
According to the report, nearly 28% of children aged 5 to 11 and 35% of child laborers aged 12 to 14 do not go to school.
United Nations agencies also called for adequate social protection, including general child welfare.