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Updated: May 8, 2010 12:53 IST

ILO warns economic crisis could reverse progress on child labour

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Unaware of their rights, child labourers work on World Human Rights Day, in Patna. File photo:AP.
Unaware of their rights, child labourers work on World Human Rights Day, in Patna. File photo:AP.

The global economic crisis has the potential to reverse gains made in recent years in the fight against child labour, the International Labour Organization (ILO) warned in a new report on Saturday.

Between 2004 and 2008, the global number of child labourers declined from 222 million to 215 million, according to ILO data from the report “Accelerating action against child labour.” The small three per cent drop was seen by the agency as being slow and uneven across the globe.

The Dutch government, along with the ILO, is next week due to hold a conference, which in part will focus on the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016.

According to the ILO, “a staggering 115 million are still exposed to hazardous work.” The best progress was made amongst young girls in the labour markets, while boys’ participation decreased by smaller levels and minors between 15 and 17 actually increased their presence by 20 per cent.

Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean saw continued reductions in child labour, but sub—Saharan Africa saw increases.

“The situation calls for a re—energized campaign against child labour. We must scale up action and move into a higher gear,” said ILO chief Juan Somavia.


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