UN says coronavirus pandemic could push millions into child labour

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Jun 12, 2020, 12:47 PM IST

Representative image. Photograph:(Others)

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The World Bank has said that up to 60 million people could potentially face extreme poverty this year

On World Day against Child Labour, The United Nations (UN) warned on Friday that coronavirus pandemic could push millions of children into work as family incomes are likely to witness a sharp fall. 

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF, in a joint brief, noted that children involved in child labour had reduced by 94 million since 2000, adding that "the COVID-19 pandemic poses very real risks of backtracking".

The World Bank has said that up to 60 million people could potentially face extreme poverty this year.  

"As the pandemic wreaks havoc on family incomes, without support, many could resort to child labour," ILO chief Guy Ryder, in a statement, said. 

The report pointed out to various studies indicating a link between rising poverty and a surge in child labour, referring to some countries where one per cent increase in poverty has resulted in at least 0.7 per cent jump in child labour. 

It also said that the pandemic could also lead to children being forced to work for longer hours and in worsening conditions. 
Other children could also be pushed to work for the worst form of labour, posing risks on their health and lives. 

Children who lose either or both of their parents during the coronavirus outbreak could be forced to step in as breadwinners, it said.

Such children remain vulnerable to exploitation, especially girls in agriculture and domestic work, the report added.

Some suggestions were also advised, which included the elimination of school fees, countries being urged to strengthen social protections and provide easier access to credit to the poor families. 

"As we re-imagine the world post-COVID, we need to make sure that children and their families have the tools they need to weather similar storms in the future," UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore said.

"Quality education, social protection services and better economic opportunities can be game-changers."