Child labor figure rises to 160 million, as Covid puts more at risk

For the first time in two decades, the number of children being put to work has risen – to 160 million worldwide, representing an increase of 8.4 million over four years – while millions of other are at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new UN report launched this week.

The joint study of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was presented on Thursday in order to commemorate the World Day Against Child Labor on June 12.

The report warned that globally, as many as nine million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labor by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic, which could rise to 46 million without access to critical social protection coverage.

In times of crisis, child labor is a survival mechanism for many families, said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, who regretted that ‘Now, well into a second year of global lockdowns, school closures, economic disruptions and shrinking national budgets, families are forced to make heart-breaking choices.’

According to the report, when poverty rises 1%, child labor increases 0.7% in some countries. 2021 was considered as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor and the UN called to join forces to halt a problem they aspire to wipe out no later than 2025.