Africa: ILO – Child Labor Rising Around the World

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Cape Town — The International Labor Organization says the latest figures show there are 160 million children around the world involved in child labor. The figures were unveiled at the ILO’s 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor now underway in Durban, South Africa.

In his opening remarks to delegates, the head of the International Labor Organization, or ILO, Guy Ryder, said of the 160 million child laborers, half of them are in work that puts their health, safety and moral development at risk. Ryder said 89 million of those children are between 5 to 11 years-old — and that child labor is rising in that age group.

He called for action to put the fight against child labor front and center.

“We know what works in a big sense,” he said. “We know education, we know social protection but the people who know the specifics of circumstances are the people on the national level. There has to be national community ownership of this so it’s not somebody who’s going to fly in from Geneva and tell colleagues from other countries the specifics of their own country.”

The fifth global conference on child labor is the first to be held in Africa. The ILO estimates most child labor on the continent, about 70 percent, is in agriculture, where children are often working alongside their families.

The European Commission announced that it will invest 10 million Euros to mainly target agriculture value chains, where child labor is prevalent and exports to the EU significant.