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22.01.2021 Africa

AASU calls for action to end surge in child labour as WHO predicts 66m children falling into extreme poverty.

By Josephine Asabea Akonor
AASU calls for action to end surge in child labour as WHO predicts 66m children falling into extreme poverty.
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Campaigners of Child’s right are devastated over the increasing number of all forms of child labour across the globe due to the corona virus pandemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that about 66 million children will fall into extreme poverty as a result of the economic crisis posed by the pandemic, adding to the already existing 386 million already living in extreme poverty.

Speaking at virtual campaign launch to mark the United Nation’s (UN) year for the elimination of child labour, themed, “Fair Share to end child labour” organized by Kailash Satyarhi Children’s Foundation, Dr. Tedros Adhanom indicated that WHO is poised to prioritize the health needs of individuals during and after the pandemic and also ensure that children have their fair share of resources to make life bearable.

The aim of the End child labour campaign is to highlight how in the last 20 years, progress has been made to ensure 9 out of the 10 world’s children are not in child’s labour, slavery or trafficking, while, 1 out of 10 is still being forced to work at the cost of their education, health and future.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom disclosed that, “The social and economic crisis triggered by the covid-19 pandemic will result in up to 66 million children fallen into extreme poverty, on top of the estimated 386 million children already in extreme poverty. The most disadvantaged children are the most affected with no access to social and legal protection, leaving them vulnerable to social exclusion and exploitation including child labour. We cannot allow this to happen. We must ensure that these children have their fair share of resources, laws and social protection,”.

Even though child labour has been in existence for decades, and gains have been made to curb it, the pandemic has worsened the efforts in recent times.

The Secretary-General of All-Africa Students Union, (AASU) Peter Kwasi, also noted during the event that, in the last few months, the pandemic has triggered a children’s rights disaster in gigantic proportions, resulting in the surge of child’s labour.

He said, “In the last few months, we have seen a spike in child labour due to pressures to sustain livelihoods in the face of extreme poverty. It is a foregone conclusion that on this path, we will lose an entire generation not only to this pandemic but due to the inaction of our leaders”.

The Assistant Director-General on UNESCO, Gabriela Ramos acknowledged that covid has made things worse and post covid will leave some devastating effects on livelihoods, however, UNESCO will do everything in its power to ensure children do not suffer the consequences.

“The ideal world where all the children will be nurtured is not the world we are living in, and that’s why we need campaigns like the fair share. And that is why we need to say we have to prioritize the needs of children and those that are the most vulnerable and to end child slavery for once. Covid has made things worse, the world after covid will be a difficult one, we know that we have lost millions of lives, but we have also lost the prospective and hopes of families”, she said.

Mr. Kodjie assured that, the Union and its partners will continue to push for justice and guarantee that victims of child labour are liberated from the act of injustice meted out to them.

According to him, Young people have always been at the epicenter of historical actions for justice, and they will continue to be at the forefront of movements for equality and human rights.

“We have seen what our power is capable of achieving in the Arab Spring and the Black Lives Matter movement. Last year, we came together from all over the world under the coordination of the 100 Million Campaign to demand a fair share of the COVID-19 recovery funds to be allocated to those furthest left behind”, he added.

Peter pledged AASU’s commitment in ending child labour and other associated problems affecting education which have emanated due to the pandemic.

“Uniting thousands of young people across the world, we all agreed to not stop fighting until we have won, and that’s why, this year, in support of the FAIR SHARE TO END CHILD LABOUR CAMPAIGN, we commit to using our convening power to mobilize our constituents to reach out to their Members of Parliament, Senators, Prime Ministers, Presidents, to allocate a fair share of the national resources to end child labour”, he said.

As the United Nations marks 2021 as the period of the international year for the elimination of child labour, the Kailash Satyarhi Children’s Foundation is calling on governments across the globe to act on their promise of ending all forms of child labour by 2025, forecasting that the crisis will increase due to covid-19.

They are also demanding for a fair share of budgets, laws and social protection including access to free, quality education for the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Finally, Mr. Kodjie called on everyone to take, especially students and young people to join this Campaign in whatever small way. “It is my firm belief that our little actions will trigger the greatest movement ever to stop child labour once and for all. We should not rest until every child is FREE, SAFE and EDUCATED”, Mr. Kodjie pleaded.

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