Stories by Bimbola Oyesola 08033246177
Every June 12 is celebrated as the World Day Against Child Labour. So today, as member nations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) mark the day at the ongoing 106th International Labour Conference (ILC), the world has been woken up to the reality that over 168 million children are now engaged in child labour across the globe, including Nigeria.
According to the ILO, 85 million of them are engaged in hazardous work.
Consequently, the global body is pleading with world leaders to provide maximum protection for children and guard against child labour.
However, ILO said it is working closely with government and employers’ and workers’ constituents, as well as with other international organisations, civil society and the media to support children affected by child labour in conflicts and disasters.
Director-general of the ILO, Mr. Guy Ryder, lamented that the world was today facing the greatest refugee crisis in decades because of countries affected by conflict and disaster, while homes and schools have been destroyed.
Ryder said ILO was emphasising the plight of children caught up in conflicts and disasters, and who were at particular risk of child labour.
According to him: “Many families lose their means to earn a living. Family and social protection systems break down and increase the risk of child labour. Child refugees and migrants, particularly those on the move who are separated from their families, are especially vulnerable and can easily fall prey to trafficking and child labour. Those who stay – or are left – behind are especially vulnerable to the worst forms child labour, including in mining or scavenging for metal and minerals in war-torn areas, clearing rubble, or working in the streets. In the most extreme cases, children find themselves as combatants fighting adult wars. Others are used by armed forces or groups as spies, helpers and porters – or become victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. All children have the right to be protected from child labour. Yet, around the world, there are still 168 million children in child labour. Eighty-five million of them are engaged in hazardous work.
“Neighbouring host countries are shouldering a huge part of the world’s responsibility to provide sanctuary and support to children and their families. Much more needs to be done to share fairly the responsibility to protect refugees and, especially, to support those states on the front line in the affected regions, so that they can provide access to the labour market for adult refugees and access to education for their children.”
Ryder noted that “under target 8.7 of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, all countries have committed to eliminating all forms of child labour by 2025. This target can only be achieved if no child is left behind – no matter how difficult and challenging the circumstances. The international community is paying more and more attention to this challenge, but more needs to be done. The ILO’s Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138), and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182), have now been ratified by 169 and 180 member states, respectively. Tomorrow I will have the honour of receiving India’s ratification of both conventions. That will mean that almost all children in the world will be covered.”