Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Bill Varner
Bloomberg News

P. B17.

Child labour remains huge problem: ILO

Report says one-sixth world's kids affected

UNITED NATIONS — Almost 250 million children — one in every six in the world — perform work that is hazardous, illegal or involuntary, according to a report by the International Labour Organization.

Child labour "remains a problem on a massive scale," ILO director-general Juan Somavia said in a statement.

The report was released as the United Nations prepares for a special session on children from tomorrow to Friday in New York.

The ILO, a United Nations-affiliated agency that aims to improve working conditions worldwide, said 179 million children between the ages of 5 and 15 are engaged in some form of hazardous work. The report cites 18,000 children working in gold and silver mines in Papua New Guinea.

An additional 8.4 million children are forced to work as soldiers, prostitutes and other illicit activities, the report said. Moldova, Romania and Ukraine are major sources for girls who are sold by gangs to become prostitutes in Western Europe, the ILO says.

The remaining children cited in the report work in violation of national laws that set the minimum working age at 14, 15 or 16.

The Asia-Pacific region has the largest number of working children, 127 million, or 60 per cent of the world total, according to the report. Sub-Saharan Africa has 48 million and Latin America and the Caribbean have 17.4 million.

In Bangladesh, 6.3 million children are engaged in about 300 forms of work, of which 45 are considered risky, the ILO said.

There are 3.3 million children working in Pakistan, many on the production of incense sticks, which causes respiratory problems, the report said.

The largest number of child labourers, 70 per cent, work in the agriculture, fishing, hunting and forestry industries, according to the report.

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Created: May 7, 2002
Last modified: July 9, 2002
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