from The Central Chronicle
New York, June 20: Poverty, lack of educational opportunities and the demand for cheap labour are helping fuel prevalence of child labour across Afghanistan, the United Nations Children's Fund has warned.
Nearly one quarter of Afghan children between the ages of seven and 14-- more girls than boys-- are working and the problem worst in rural areas, Noriko Izumi, head of child protection for UNICEF in Afghanistan, says.
"Poverty and low family income levels force children to work to support their family," said Izumi. "Children are cheaper to employ than adults and easier to manipulate. It is easier to hire and fire children."
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 218 million children worldwide, from 5 to 17 years old, are engaged in some kind of labour, with 126 million children engaged in the worst forms of child labour.
UNICEF is working on several fronts to tackle child labour in Afghanistan, which already has a number of legal and policy instruments to protect children, including a national strategy for children at risk and a child labour law defining the legal age of employment.
At the same time, it urged the Afghan Government to sign and ratify two important ILO conventions-- one concerning the minimum age of employment and the other one regarding hazardous work. Among the challenges for UNICEF is difficulty verifying a child's age because of the low birth registration rate in the country, which has emerged from decades of conflict.