Child labour swells for first time in two decades: UN

June 10, 2021: The United Nations said Thursday that the world has seen the first increase in child labor in two decades and that the corona virus crisis threatens to push millions more young people into the same predicament.

In a joint report, the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the number of child laborers at the beginning of 2020 was 160 million – up from 8.4 million in four years.

It said the increase began before the outbreak of the epidemic and that the decline had changed dramatically, with child labor falling by 94 million between 2000 and 2016.

As the Covid 19 crisis began, one in 10 children worldwide became trapped in child labor, with sub-Saharan Africa hardest hit. Although the percentage of children in child labor remained the same as in 2016, population growth meant a significant increase in numbers. Agencies say the epidemic is exacerbating the situation. He warned that unless emergency measures are taken to help families in poverty, about 50 million more children could be forced into forced labor in the next two years.

“We are losing in the fight to end child labor,” UNICEF chief Henrietta Four told reporters, stressing that the “Covid-19 crisis is making the situation worse.” “Now, at the end of the second year of global lockdowns, school closures, economic disruptions and shrinking national budgets, families are forced to make heartbreaking choices.”

If current estimates of poverty due to epidemic diseases increase, another nine million children will be pushed into child labor by the end of 2022, the report said. But statistical modeling suggests that number could be more than five times higher, according to Claudia Capa, a UNICEF statistician who co-authored the report. “If social security coverage falls short of current levels, as a result of austerity measures and other factors, the number of children falling into child labor will reach 4.6 million by the end of next year (and additional) May increase. ”

The report, published every four years, found that children between the ages of five and 11 accounted for more than half of the world’s population.

Boys were more likely to be affected, accounting for 97 of the 160 million children working in child labor in early 2020. The report says that when at least 21 hours are worked each week in household chores, the gender gap is halved. In particular, children between the ages of five and 17 have seen a significant increase in so-called effective performance, which is thought to affect a child’s development, education or health. This includes working in hazardous industries, such as mining or heavy machinery, and working more than 43 hours a week, making schooling impossible.

At the beginning of 2020, a total of 79 million children were engaged in hazardous work, up 6.5 million from four years ago, the report said. The study found that most child labor is in agriculture, accounting for 70% of the world’s children, or 112 million children. About 20% is in the child labor services sector and about 10% in the industry.

The report found that the highest increase in child labor was in sub-Saharan Africa, where population growth, persistent crises, extreme poverty and inadequate social protection measures have led to an additional 16.6 million child deaths since 2016. Forced to pay wages.

Approximately five to 17 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to 2.3% in Europe and North America. A quarter of children are already in child labor. UN agencies have warned that additional economic shocks and school closures due to the code crisis mean that children already engaged in child labor can work longer hours and in worse conditions. The report says there is a greater risk of children being forced into the worst forms of child labor due to loss of employment and income.

 “The new estimates are a wake-up call,” ILO chief Guy Ryder said in a statement. “We cannot stand by while a new generation of children is put at risk,” he said, stressing that “we are at a pivotal moment and much depends on how we respond. This is a time for renewed commitment and energy to turn the corner and break the cycle of poverty and child labour.”
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