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Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia calls to address plight of over 15 million victims of child labour in region

Staff Report/Riyadh
Filed on June 18, 2020


Child labour deprives them of their childhood, potential and dignity following the Covid-19 crisis.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal Al Saud, President of the Arab Council for Childhood and Development (ACCD) and Committee Chair of the Prince Talal International Prize for Human Development, has called for urgent measures to address the plight of over 15 million children in the Arab world who are victims of child labour and are deprived of a normal childhood, potential and dignity.

Marking the UN's World Day Against Child Labour on June 12, Prince Abdulaziz presented the most recent quantitative view of the region's child labour and urged government bodies, the private sector, civil society and international organisations to coordinate their efforts to address the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and its severe consequences on children.

"Children are the future of the region; caring for their childhood, developing their talents and their psychological and physical wellness, ensures a better future for all of us," he said.
With children and young adults forming over half the population of the Arab states, nearly 15 per cent of all children is estimated to be engaged in some form of child labour, according to a report by the International Labour Organisation. The numbers could be even higher as many children work in the informal sector, which is hard to measure.
Prince Abdulaziz said that while armed conflicts and strife had led to the displacement of families, leading to tens of thousands of children being forced out of school and compelled to work even in hazardous labour, the current Covid-19 situation will further amplify the problem.
He cautioned that to ensure that a significant portion of the new generation is not lost, their well-being must be prioritised by doubling the efforts to curb child labour in all forms be it in agriculture, services or industry.

"More alarmingly, several of our children are being forced to engage in illegal activities or street work and separated from families. That must stop."

He stressed the commitment of the Arab Council for Childhood and Development - regionally and globally - to implement a legal framework to prevent child labour, ensure financial inclusion, drive policies to provide social protection and reduce poverty, take immediate and effective measures to eliminate forced labour, end modern slavery, and human trafficking.
"Our goal is to ensure the prohibition and eradication of child labour of all forms by 2025, and to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030," he added.

The Arab Council for Children and Development had participated in the development of a regional study entitled 'Child Labour in Arab Countries' in partnership with the Arab League, the Arab Labour Organisation, the International Labour Organisation and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. The study, launched in March 2019 was adopted by the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in Beirut to be a guiding document to support the efforts of member states to eradicate child labour.

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