Published:  03:04 AM, 11 June 2021

Child labor swells for first time in two decades: UN

Child labor swells for first time in two decades: UN Two boys are working at a factory in Dhaka's Kamrangir Char area. -Mostafizur Rahman
The world has marked the first rise in child labor in two decades and the coronavirus crisis threatens to push millions more youngsters toward the same fate, the United Nations said Thursday. In a joint report, the International Labour Organization and the UN children's agency UNICEF said the number in child labor stood at 160 million at the start of 2020 -- an increase of 8.4 million in four years.

The hike began before the pandemic hit and marks a dramatic reversal of a downward trend that had seen child labor numbers shrink by 94 million between year 2000 and 2016, it said. Just as the Covid-19 crisis was beginning to pick up steam, nearly one in 10 children globally were stuck in child labor, with sub-Saharan Africa the worst affected. While the percentage of children in child labor remained the same as in 2016, population growth meant that the numbers rose significantly.

And the pandemic risks worsening the situation significantly, the agencies said.

They warned that unless urgent action is taken to help ballooning numbers of families plunging into poverty, nearly 50 million more kids could be forced into child labor over the next two years.

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