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SarWatch Writer
SARW is Concerned Covid-19 Could send more children into ASM

In observance of the World Day Against Child Labour, established by the United Nations’ (UN) International Labour Organization (ILO), the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) would like to commend efforts which are being made worldwide to combat child labour in the extractive industries. SARW supports efforts being made to prevent the exploitation of children in the mines particularly in the Artisanal and Small-scale Mines (ASM). However, SARW recognises that more work needs to be done to completely eradicate this problem. The situation of Child Labour in ASM in Southern Africa remains alarming especially in Madagascar (precious stones), Democratic Republic of Congo (cobalt, coltan and gold), Zimbabwe (gold) and Zambia (Manganese where three juveniles died).

While efforts are being made, it seems the situation of child labour will get worse because of increased levels of poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. SARW is concerned that the situation is moving from bad to worse because of the socio-economic hardships brought about by Covid-19. This year’s theme is “COVID-19 and Child Labour: Looking to the Future in Times of Crisis” is a call from ILO to all stakeholders, especially governments, to double their efforts to eliminate all forms of Child Labour, especially in ASM where it is concentrated. It is also a warning on the impact of Covid 19 on the economic and labour markets worldwide with people losing their jobs. This will reverse progress made in reducing Child Labour as parents lose their jobs. The ongoing economic crisis, if no precautions are taken, will send more children into unregulated and unprotected labour markets, especially ASM. Child labour will only be eradicated when the socio-economic conditions fundamentally change to absorb unemployment and reduce poverty.

SARW will continue to advocate for countries to implement the different international conventions and invest in practical solutions to eliminate Child Labour. Combatting Child labour is not government’s responsibility alone. It needs the combined efforts of everyone including labour movements, companies, civil society and communities.

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