GENEVA: Millions of children could be pushed into work by the coronavirus crisis, the UN said Friday as it braced for the first rise in child labour in two decades.
In a joint brief, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF, the UN children s agency, noted that the number of children locked in child labour had declined by 94 million since 2000.
But the UN agencies warned that “the COVID-19 pandemic poses very real risks of backtracking.”
Friday s report pointed out that the crisis would likely cause a significant rise in poverty.
According to the World Bank, the number of people in extreme poverty could potentially skyrocket by up to 60 million this year alone.
“As the pandemic wreaks havoc on family incomes, without support, many could resort to child labour,” ILO chief Guy Ryder said in a statement.
The relation between swelling poverty and a surge in child labour appears clear, the report said, pointing to studies from some countries indicating that a one-percent increase in poverty leads to at least a 0.7-percent rise in child labour.
The report also stressed that the crisis could push children already working to put in longer hours under worsening conditions.
Others could be forced into the worst forms of labour, seriously threatening their health and safety, it said.