By Michael Oche, Switzerland
Ahead of tomorrow’s World Day Against Child Labour 2017, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has revealed that over 168 million children across the globe, including Nigeria are involved in child labour, with 85 million of them engaged in hazardous work.
The global body pleaded with the world leaders to provide maximum protection for the children against such hazardous condition.
ILO said it is working closely with government, employers’ and workers’ constituents, as well as with other international organizations, civil society and the media to support children affected by child labour in conflicts and disasters.
Speaking at the ongoing 106th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), Director-General of ILO, Mr. Guy Ryder lamented that the world today is facing the greatest refugee crisis because countries affected by conflict and disaster, homes and schools had been destroyed.
He explained that ILO was emphasizing the plight of children caught up in conflicts and disasters and who were at particular risk of child labour.
He said, “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.
He continued: “Today, we are facing the greatest refugee crisis for decades. 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”.